Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs (Part 1)
Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
Employee wellness programs have many benefits for employees and often for their families. They can improve their physical, mental, and psychological well-being.
Better Employee Health Behaviors
Employee wellness programs often target leading risk factors for mortality. The World Health Organization lists high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol, unsafe sex, and alcohol use as the top 8 contributors to deaths worldwide; low fruit and vegetable intake is number 12. All of these factors are modifiable through behavior change.
A comprehensive program with group or individual education or counseling programs and appropriate fitness, dining, and other facilities can help employees reduce these risk factors. For ongoing support, employers could offer a health coaching app as an effective, lower-cost option that is fully supportive of users’ health goals, from lowering sugar intake to increasing vegetable consumption to managing blood pressure.
Increased Motivation and Morale
It stands to reason that employees who are motivated and have high morale would be better employees. They might be expected to be more productive and contribute to a better workplace atmosphere than employees who have no interest in coming to work each day. Wellness programs could raise motivation and morale through:
· Providing healthy snacks to stave off hunger without inducing guilt.
· Encouraging fitness breaks to prevent boredom and fatigue on the job.
· Sponsoring team-building activities so employees want to support each other and feel proud of their contributions.
Increased morale and motivation can be reflected in lower employee turnover rates. “Harvard Business Review” presents examples such as a 4% turnover rate with implementation of a program at SAS Institute, and a 50% reduction in attrition at Biltmore.
Healthier Work Environment
How healthy is your work environment? Another question is whether your work culture is one of health. As you answer, consider:
· Are doughnuts or fruit more likely to be served in a morning meeting?
· Do employees feel more comfortable going outside for lunch or eating while working at their desks?
· When an employee takes off early to watch his daughter’s softball game, do the other employees roll their eyes or tell him to show them pictures of the game tomorrow?
Workplace wellness programs can improve the healthiness of the work environment in many ways. They can improve employees’ physical health – think: apples instead of cookies at the afternoon meeting, and taking a 3:00 p.m. group walk most days. The environment can also support mental and psychological health by encouraging family time, for example.
Lowering stress is another way to improve the work environment. This can be done through:
· Allowing voices to be heard in decision-making processes.
· Asking employees for their opinions.
· Supporting family time.
· Recognizing accomplishments.
· Leaving communication open.
Better Employee Health
· Weight loss.
· Increased fitness.
· Lower blood pressure.
· Lower blood sugar.
· Fewer hospitalizations.
Stress impacts the development of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and mental health disorders, just to name a few. Employee wellness programs can address stress in two major ways.
· First, by lowering job-related stress by improving the health environment.
· Second, by assisting with stress management techniques so employees are better equipped to handle their stressors.
Further health gains from stress reduction. Employee assistance programs can pay off when they offer counseling and related services to employees. These services might assist not only with work-related stress, but also stress from other sources, such as family or relationships. In one year-long comprehensive program, high levels of emotional stress decreased from 21 to 15%.