Employee Wellness Programs More Important Than Ever
Americans are working longer and longer hours, and our health is paying the price. Employee wellness has never been more important. Though people are becoming more health conscious, it’s hard to make time for exercise and eating right during a 60 hour+ work week.
What Are Employee Wellness Programs?
Simply put, this is any program implemented by an employer to specifically increase the health and wellness of their employees. They can take many forms, often falling somewhere on a spectrum depending on factors like budget and company size. What’s important to know is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It often varies from company to company.
What Are The Benefits?
Aside from sleeping, most of our time is spent in the workplace. Blending wellness into the work day is a great way to not only better your health, but also increase productivity. Healthy employees are happier and take less time off due to sickness. Health care premiums are reduced. Investing in a wellness program shows your employees that you value them, and in return they perform better and cost you less. Win-win.
It’s estimated that chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and obesity account for 75% of health care costs. They are also in the category of most preventable type of disease. Many of these chronic, preventable diseases can be addressed by employee wellness programs. Changing habits is hard, but with the support of a team environment at work, it’s easier to commit and make progress. Even if you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past to make changes, participating in a program at work can and does lead to success.
How To Start A Program
If you’re an employee, consider asking your management about introducing one of these programs. You can even volunteer to help with startup! If you’re an employer, gather some feedback from your staff about what their goals are and what they would like help with. If you need to, start small. There are plenty of easy to implement ideas out there including:
- Healthy office potlucks – biweekly or monthly.
- Offering healthy snacks in the break room.
- Remove unhealthy items from vending machines, lounges, etc.
- Create an office cookbook with healthy recipes.
- Sponsor a team of employees in a local 5k or other race.
- Offer ergonomic furniture like standing desks or treadmill desks.
- Financially incentivize a smoking cessation program
- Create fun competitions around feedback programs like FitBit
Implementing just a few of these ideas will make a big impact in your employee wellness. Plus, you’ll be encouraging team building while shifting focus to a healthy office culture. Everyone benefits when companies invest in their employees.