The Importance of Workplace Wellness Programs
Workplace wellness programs are becoming more widespread throughout the business world. The concept is simple. A business that provides a workplace wellness program creates healthier and happier employees who are more productive. In addition, employers not only reap the benefits of a healthier, industrious workforce, but realize fiscal benefits as well.
Wellness programs can range from simply offering free information and support about health and nutrition to workers, to subsidized healthy lunches, fitness education, and/or providing a trainer or gym membership.
“Employers who offer forward-thinking workplace wellness programs not only have healthier, happier employees, they reap fiscal benefits, too.”
Employees are the most valuable assets to any company. When a company invests in employee wellness initiatives, they receive lowered expenses in return. It comes in the form of better performing workers, and lower absenteeism and health care costs. By providing workers with these services, companies are improving wellbeing and job satisfaction, as well as raising retention rates. The welfare of employees has a direct impact on the success of the company.
So, how do you get people out of their office cubicles and engaged in a wellness program that‘s efficient and goal-oriented?
Survey your employees.
Find out what employees need, and how those needs fit with the goals of the employer. It is essential to understand the mindsets, challenges, and your audience first before laying out a framework for its path. A simple health risk assessment (which your insurance carrier may offer) followed by biometric screens is a good way to assess problem areas.
Develop a plan.
Based on survey data, determine what elements will work for your employees. Is it fitness classes that will motivate workers, wellness workshops, ergonomic standing desks and work fit office furniture, individual health assessments, or some combination of the above?
Communicate upcoming changes.
A culture of wellness doesn’t happen without a plan to communicate it. Employers must map out a program’s framework using different methods (e-mail, posters, company intranet) to communicate the information to employees. Create a big launch party to roll out the exciting new program. Hand out fitness related tchotchkes – squeeze balls, water bottles, etc.
You may find that having a workplace wellness program is a big shift in culture for most employees. It’s important to add in rewards to encourage employees to get healthy. For instance, create team challenges – Biggest Loser style, provide complementary recipes and meal plans or bring in a coach to teach a class on “fitness Friday”. Hand out awards for weight loss, number of workouts, etc. Just remember that these behavior changes are new, challenging, and difficult to sustain, be prepared to include incentives and rewards throughout the year in order to drive long-term engagement.