Wellness Programs – A Benefit To All
Have you hesitated to start a wellness program for your corporation because you think it isn’t financially sound or too time consuming? Think again. Not only do wellness programs work, they will improve your bottom line!
Wellness Programs Benefit Everyone!
It’s true. Wellness programs benefit everyone.
- Improves employee health services
- Reduces elevated health risks
- Improves productivity
- Reduces healthy care costs
- Decreases absenteeism
- Can improve employee recruitment and retention
- Builds and helps sustain employee morale
- Improves employee health
- Improves your organization’s bottom line!
A recent report from Harvard Business School found that for American-based companies, medical expenses fell by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs. Employee absenteeism expenses also fell by $2.73 (Forbes, June 2019). That is a substantial return for your investment!
What is wellness?
According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is the “active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”.
Wellness is multidimensional.
Healthy body through exercise, nutrition, and sleep
Encourage your employees to be active, choose healthy foods and get an adequate amount of sleep.
According to the CDC, 1/3 of American adults don’t get enough sleep. The average adult needs 7+ hours of sleep per day for adequate health benefits.
People who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night tend to have more health issues than those who sleep longer. These issues include cardiovascular risks of higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar (which can lead to diabetes), greater inflammation and more obesity.
With this in mind, strive for 7+ hours of sleep per day!
According to Medical News Today, your heart and brain will benefit. It is important to realize that adequate sleep not only helps your heart be healthy it allows your brain to reorganize and recharge itself. It even helps “detox” your brain, removing toxic waste by products that have accumulated throughout the day.
Nutritional requirements change based on age, gender, activity level and body chemistry. Properly educating your employees as well as giving them access to healthy foods (think healthy vendor options) is important.
Being more active can help all people think, feel and sleep better as well as perform daily tasks more easily. Therefore, if you’re sedentary, sitting less is a great place to start.
Where Can You Start?
- “Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
- Light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary. In other words, spend less time sitting.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.”
*These recommendations are from Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Engagement with the world through learning, problem solving, creativity, etc.
According to the CDC and Mental Health America, poor mental health and stress can negatively affect an employee. In fact it can impact job performance and productivity, work engagement, communication with coworkers and even physical capability and daily functioning.
Did you know that a majority of professionals spend 1/3 of their lives at work?
On a daily basis, “we will spend more waking hours in our workplace than at home”. Which means we will have more exchanges with team members than family members.
Therefore it is no surprise that studies have shown being unhappy with or unfulfilled by work can take a toll on our health, relationships, and even lifespan.
Generally speaking, those in “unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments”, and are absent more. Stress from work can also impact their family life and mental health. Believe it or not, it can even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.
Design an environment that allows your staff to perform at their best.
Incorporate mental wellness into your culture.
Create a space that is conducive to open dialog if an employee chooses to disclose a mental illness or when they need to seek help.
Focus on creating a work environment where staff do not feel the pressure to “always be on”. How can this be achieved? First, limit the number of after-hours emails. Secondly, be transparent about your paid time off policies. And lastly, all employees should feel encouraged to take time off and work fewer hours if they need to.
Another great way to reduce work stress and build a supportive environment is to offer team-building events during lunch or late afternoon. This gives staff a little break, allowing them to unwind with their colleagues. (Note- there are creative ways to do this in person AND virtually.)
Being in touch with, aware of, accepting of and able to express feelings
Emotional wellness is the ability to navigate feelings – identify, access and effectively communicate. (It includes self awareness and mindfulness.)
The emotional well-being of each employee affects how they cope with daily stress to stay productive. An unhealthy work environment impairs these cognitive abilities which can result in productivity losses. Moreover, companies with an unhealthy work environment have high absenteeism and turnover.
In other words, be open-minded about the experiences and feelings of colleagues. Respond with empathy. Offer peer support. Encourage others to seek help.
Search for meaning and purpose in human existence
To put it another way, spiritual well being is about our inner life and its relationship with the wider world. This also includes our relationship with the environment, our relationships with others and with ourselves.
Benefits of spiritual well being include:
- Feeling content with life
- Maintaining balance and control of life
- Building positive relationships
- Feeling a purpose and meaning in life
- Experiencing a connection with a power greater than oneself
- Accepting and growing from the challenges and changes in life.
Spirituality in the workplace means that “employees find nourishment for both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of their spirituality at work”.
Spirituality can be nurtured at the workplace in a host of ways.
Establish bereavement programs as well as employee assistance programs. Train your management systems to encourage personal and spiritual transformation. Establish leadership practices that support the growth, development, and well being of all employees. Institute diversity programs that create inclusive cultures as well as integrate core values and core business decisions and practices. Display and distribute wellness information.
Connecting with others, interacting, contributing to other people and our communities
Social wellness plays a key role in employee productivity. One study revealed that happy employees are 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees. Consequently understanding why social wellness matters and taking steps to improve it at your workplace can have a profound impact on your business and your company’s bottom line.
Employee turnover is expensive! The economic cost of an employee leaving a highly skilled job at your business places as high as 213 percent of what the cost would be to pay that employee’s salary for a year. And happy employees with strong work relationships are much less likely to change jobs than their counterparts.
The impact employee happiness has on a company’s finances is clear. For example, during a seven-year period, stock prices for Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” increased 14 percent when the overall market went up just 6 percent. Placing a premium on employee retention is just smart business.
Healthy physical environment free of hazards, awareness of the role we play in bettering rather than denigrating natural environment
Environmental wellness is about creating clean, safe, and healthy surroundings – avoiding injuries, infections, or chemical exposures. In addition, it is about providing opportunities to choose sustainable options.
The workplace is an optimal setting to create a culture of wellness because
communication structures are already in place. Policies and programs come from one central team. Social support networks already exist. All of which make it easy track progress and measure the effects. It is also simplifies offering incentives to reinforce healthy behaviors.
Companies who offer work site wellness programs help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. These programs encourage employees to make lifestyle choices that, in the long run, lead to better health and being good stewards of their own health.
Workplace Wellness programs or initiatives have proven to be successful, especially when they combine mental and physical health interventions.
It Is More Than Your Return On Investment Though!
Research shows that after a mere three years, wellness programs have a positive return on investment. That may be a good reason to start, but over time, most companies continue because of the way it changed their worksite culture. Employees start to engage and communicate with each other. They feel valued and appreciated.
Why is this important? Because engaged people go above and beyond what is expected of them.
When it is all said and done, your employees want to feel loved and appreciated. When they do, really good things happen at work.
Making a Wellness Program Go From Good to GREAT
(Content in this section is thanks to our strategic partner PCNA)
Whether you have an existing wellness program or you are ready to start one, there are strategies to take it from good to great.
Create a name and logo for the program. Unique branding gives employees the impression that this is a special event that’s back by the organization. Consequently, it gives the program legitimacy.
Offer Wellness Program Participation Giveaways!
People love free stuff. Incentivize the program participation by offering the right gifts. Above all, be sure to choose products that carry the health and wellness message.
Include Prizes People Want
The level of participation in your wellness program impacts how successful it ultimately is.
The right rewards will encourage employees to stick with it. For this reason, consider using a multi-tiered approach with prizes for different levels of achievement.
There is undeniably a large amount of research to support the benefits of wellness.
It will boost and maintain employee morale and engagement! With an effective wellness program you will improve the lives of your employees and help drive the success of your organization.
So why wait? Your investment return is waiting.
2019 Sept 3. Fleischman, Edward. Forbes Council Member. Four Ways To Promote Mental Wellness In The Workplace. Forbes.com
July 2018. Mental Health In The Workplace. Cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools_resources/pdfs/WHRC-Mental-Health-and-Stress-in-the-workplace-Issue-brief-H.pdf.
14 March 2018. Srivastava, Ritika, psychologist. Spiritual Well-being At Work: How To Do It Right. HRZone.com/lead/culture/spiritualwellbeing-at-work-how-to-do-it-right
13 December 2017. Preston Ph.D., Camille. Promoting Employee Happiness Benefits Everyone. Forbes.