Employee wellness programs are usually initiated for specific reasons. Maybe the CEO just had a heart attack and has discovered the benefits of exercise and low-fat diets. Maybe the vice president of human resources is concerned about the 30-percent increase in health insurance premiums this year.
Whatever the reason, wellness programs (e.g. nutrition seminars, smoking cessation classes, fitness center memberships, etc.) are worth a company’s investment. Their value is usually two-fold:
1) There are tangible benefits to be gained, such as cost-savings; and
2) There are intangible benefits, such as improvements in employee morale.
The tangible benefits include:
– Improved productivity
– Reduced sick leave/absenteeism
– Reduced use of health benefits
– Reduced workers’ compensation
– Fewer injuries
– Control of health insurance premiums
– Lower turnover
The intangibles include:
– Improved employee morale
– Increased employee loyalty
– Reduced organizational friction
– Better employee decision making
Some Do’s and Don’ts
The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) tracks wellness programs in more than 2,100 companies and has learned some things that will help ensure success:
1) Make the program voluntary;
2) Continually market it to employees;
3) Be sensitive to age and body limitations as well
as cultural differences;
4) Make the program as flexible as possible;
5) Evaluate the program frequently;
6) Make sure the management staff is modeling
7) Reward the people who have helped put the
8) Keep good records in order to properly evaluate
9) Provide a balance of fun programs and those
that are clinically significant;
10) Personalize the program to the workers’
Once your program is off the ground, there are many ways to easily tell if it is working. If you’re offering fitness classes, participation levels should be between 40 to 80 percent, and new people should be joining the classes frequently. Ten to 35 percent of the people should be changing their unhealthy habits. They should be eating better, exercising, losing weight, and not smoking. You should monitor absentee rates and expect to see a reduction of between 20 to 70 percent. And you should experience drops in your health care costs from between five to 25 percent. These numbers will vary depending on the intensity and follow-through of your wellness program.
Information for this article was provided by The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).