What are corporate wellness programs?
What does “wellness”mean to you? It means eating well and being fit to many people, but wellness can mean so much more. It can include other aspects of well-being, such as maintaining or improving mental and emotional health, engaging in other healthy behaviors such as getting enough sleep and managing stress, and taking a long-term approach.
Wellness can also refer to the absence of disease. Since care for chronic conditions is by far the most expensive component covered by your company’s healthcare plan, that may be the initial attention-grabber as your company considers a corporate wellness program. As you continue to investigate, you are sure to come across many reasons to get a program started. Here are six reasons your company needs a corporate wellness program today.
1 . Attract and Keep the Best Talent
Corporate wellness programs may make the difference between being able to hire the candidate you want versus being left with your second or third choice. When two companies offer similar jobs with similar salaries, the savvy recruit will go with the company with better programs, and workplace wellness programs are among the most sought-after perks for serious candidates.
Today’s workforce often looks beyond the dollar signs, and some potential employees may choose a nominally lower-paying job with better perks. Why? Some people want to be happy, healthy, and productive. Also, they may hear by word of mouth how great the company is.
Along with making recruiting easier, offering a corporate wellness program can increase employee retention, which is important for many reasons. High employee turnover has costs almost everywhere you look.
Cost of advertising, interviewing, and hiring.
Lost productivity during onboarding.
Loss in sales or other work while the position remains vacant.
Increased stress on other employees during the vacancy and subsequent training period.
Increased doubt among employees who wonder why so many of their colleagues are leaving.
Reduced sense of commonality and teamwork.
Employees tend to be loyal to and stay with the organization that they perceive takes good care of them, and a corporate wellness program is something that can make them happy.
2. Improve Employee Health and Wellbeing
A corporate wellness program can improve employee health and wellbeing. Programs such as Lark that target both physical and mental health can have far-reaching effects. Various Lark coaches can manage chronic conditions to lower the risk for complications, assist with tobacco cessation, and reduce chronic disease risk factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity. Targeted behaviors include eating healthier foods, increasing activity, and, as appropriate, adhering to medications and monitoring blood pressure or blood sugar at home. These simple actions can significantly lower risk for chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. Self-management behaviors can prevent complications and improve quality of life.
3. Increase Productivity
Employees who are healthier and have an increased sense of wellbeing, which can be some of the results of a wellness program, have the ability to perform better. First, workers may miss fewer days of work when chronic conditions are prevented or managed. Lark has coaching for some of the most common chronic and costly conditions that cause absenteeism, including the following .
Tobacco cessation (smoking causes 0.6 missed work days per employee per year).
Weight loss (obesity causes causes 1 missed work day per employee per year).
Increasing physical activity (physical inactivity causes 0.6 missed work days per employee per year).
Hypertension (causes 1.1 missed work days per employee per year).
Diabetes (causes 1 missed work day per employee per year).
Each of these missed days can cost hundreds of dollars, making a low-cost, highly-effective corporate wellness program such as Lark a practical no-brainer.
Improved health can reduce stress and improve morale, allowing employees to focus on their jobs and increase productivity. They can be more engaged when not focused on health problems, and also feel more dedication to the company that supports their health.
4. Cut Healthcare Costs
Do you know how much you may be spending on healthcare for your employees? Do you know how much of that may be completely avoidable? The first value may be shocking, and the second may be embarrassing - or tempting - enough to spur you to action.
For the first value, care for chronic conditions costs the country about $3 trillion annually. Looking at the second value, what if you were to learn that 80% of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke were not genetic, but linked to preventable causes?
When looking at the amount you may save by adopting corporate wellness programs, take diabetes as an example. Diabetes costs the country over $200 billion annually in medical expenses. It affects 1 in 8 adults, and another 1 in 3 have prediabetes and are likely to develop diabetes. However, a Diabetes Prevention Program such as Lark DPP is based on simple changes that can lower diabetes risk by over 50%, with an estimated per-person 3-year return on investment around $3,000.
Heart disease presents another compelling for a corporate wellness program. While it is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is also considered highly preventable. In fact, 80% of heart disease - 4 in 5 cases - are linked to lifestyle choices, especially related to weight, diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use . Modifiable risk factors for heart disease include hypertension, prediabetes, and diabetes. Lark addresses all of these.
Do the math, weighing the cost of chronic conditions against the cost of prevention and management, and the answer may be clear. Corporate wellness may be too valuable to ignore.
5. Increase Health Awareness
The most prevalent, devastating, and expensive chronic conditions in the U.S. are largely preventable through healthy lifestyle choices. A corporate wellness program can raise awareness of this fact. As part of its coaching, Lark, for example, provides education on chronic conditions, wellness, and how users can make choices to promote mental and physical health.
Lark coaches around healthy behaviors such as:
Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight.
Increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time.
Improving diet quality.
Managing stress in healthy ways.
Quitting smoking or tobacco use.
Additional education to raise health awareness may be on:
How to recognize certain conditions and what to do if necessary.
Where to go for additional information and support.
Self-management of conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
This increased awareness of why healthy choices are important and how to make them may inspire employees to make lifestyle choices leading to better health. A coach that is available 24/7 without limits, such as Lark, can further enable employees to take charge of their health.
6. Make Employees Happy
What makes people happy? Enough money to live on, to be sure, but money is not everything. Aside from strong personal family and/or friend relationships, factors that can contribute to happiness include having physical health and a positive work environment, especially since you may spend nearly half your waking hours at work. Another factor in happiness may be your own ability to manage stress.
A workplace wellness program may address one or many of these factors. Lark provides coaching on behaviors that improve physical health, and also addresses stress management. A corporate wellness program can normalize healthy behaviors, creating a culture of health and even a sense of community at work.
Happy people are more productive. This makes sense intuitively, as you might expect, or know from personal experience, that it is easier to focus and you may be more motivated when you are happy. The link between happiness and productivity has also been proven through science. In one set of experiments, happy participants were 12 percent more productive than those who were not happy . Sad participants, including those who had experienced a negative event in their lives recently, were 10 percent less productive.
How much is 12% greater productivity worth to you? It is almost certainly less than the cost of a wellness program!
Workplace wellness improves overall employee health, and corporate wellness programs can be investments that provide good returns. Lark is an all-in-one digital platform providing clinically-validated corporate wellness programs in the pocket of your employees. Options include personalized lifestyle coaching options for chronic disease management and chronic disease prevention.
A corporate wellness program is essential for companies who want to offer the best packages. It can improve productivity and reduce costs, but does not need to be hard to design or implement. A health coach such as Lark, offered via smartphone app, can promote wellness with demonstrated results. Companies can expect seamless integration and administration with this non-invasive foundation for a wellness program.
Asay GRB, Roy K, Lang J, Payne RL, Howard DH. Absenteeism and employer costs associated with chronic diseases and health risk factors in the US workforce. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:150503. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd13.150503
Sgroi D. Are happy workers more productive? Global Perspectives Series: Paper 4. Social Market Foundation. October 2015. http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-4-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf