Workplace Wellness

6 Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

Written by Ameer

Using an employee wellness program may be your company’s superpower in attracting, and retaining top talent in today’s job market. In fact, here are some statistics that make that point clear:

Despite the employee sentiment towards wellness programs above, only 40% of employers prioritize their wellness initiatives within their overall benefits strategy. In case you are wondering how to analyze your wellness program sentiment, HR professionals can apply sentiment analysis marketing techniques to analyze qualitative feedback from their employees.

The good news for you is that you can be a part of the 40% of employers who are able to win, and retain top talent with the help of a wellness program. Aside from recruitment, and retention, there are many other benefits of a wellness program (check out this mini-guide explaining why wellness programs work for almost every employer). This mini-guide will share those insights as well as useful background information, so that you can get more buy-in for a wellness program at your company!

Read on to learn more about this topic! Click on the sections below to jump right to your specific question.

What are 4 goals for an employee wellness program?

Employee wellness programs are a proactive measure implemented by human resources, and senior management, to improve the health and productivity of their employees. So accordingly, your team should set some high-level goals before going ahead and implementing an employee wellness program (you should also check if your insurance company offers a wellness program), or even assessing the effectiveness of your existing employee wellness program.

  1. Improve Productivity: A good employee wellness program will encourage healthier behaviours, and healthier lifestyle choices for your employees. Healthier employees will lead to improved productivity for your company through less sick time, less absenteeism/presenteeism, and the obvious one being more work completed.
  2. Reducing, and Containing your Company’s Healthcare Costs: Healthier behaviours lead to less stress, and less stress leads to reduced healthcare costs. Stress management is a key part of any successful wellness program! Beyond that, implementing a population health reporting measure will help your company make better decisions in regards to healthcare policies for your employees.
  3. Increased Employee Engagement and Employee Satisfaction: By making wellness a company wide initiative, your employees have a chance to bond over a common objective, leading to increased team/inter-team chemistry. This helps improve your companies’ culture as well!
  4. Recruitment & Retention: A study found that 87% of employees consider health and wellness packages when choosing an employer. This is especially important when its’ a job seeker market. At the same time, a good wellness program leads to a happy and engaged employee base, making retention easier.

We will cover specific benefits of an employee wellness program later on in this post, but until we get there, we will share more useful background information that will set you up for success with your employee wellness program!

How to cater wellness programs to your employees’ needs?

When you are setting up, or auditing your wellness program, it’s important to consider the different areas of wellness that you can incorporate into your wellness program. Those areas specifically are:

  • Physical Wellness
  • Emotional, or Mental Wellness
  • Environmental Wellness
  • Occupational Wellness
  • Social Wellness
  • Financial Wellness
  • Spiritual wellness

You should also ask yourself these key question before launching a wellness program at your company. While you’re at it, check out this post that tells HR what employees really want in their wellness program.

Ideas of Workplace Wellness initiatives to Implement for each type of Wellness

To get your employees to actually participate in your wellness program, it’s important to get a pulse survey from your employees to understand what types of wellness are important to them. Once you do have a good sense of the type(s) of wellness to focus in on for your wellness program, here are some helpful ideas of employee wellness benefits, or corporate wellness initiatives you can implement for each type:

Physical Wellness: Implementing a program that focuses on building healthy lifestyle choices, healthy behaviours, and reducing stress in order to reduce chances of illness, injury, or chronic health conditions. Activity Rewards is an awesome way to support this type of wellness, and incentivize healthy behaviours for your employees!

Emotional, or Mental Wellness: Supporting your employees with mental health benefits is a great way to help them cope with the difficulties of day to day life. By helping your employees with their mental health, you will build strong loyalty by showing them that you really care. Some good ways to help employees would be to offer reimbursements for health/wellness related purchases.

Environmental Wellness: The health of our planet is important not only for us, but for generations to come. It’s our collective job to negate the harm that previous generations have done to our precious planet. A good way to show employees that you care about environmental wellness would be to set up sustainable lifestyle goals, or challenges.

Occupational Wellness: Work-life balance is extremely important for today’s workforce, and it will continue to be a hot topic for generations to come. The challenge with today’s hustle culture is that we have created an environment where hyper-producers are rewarded, and everyone else is disregarded. To work around that type of negative culture, you can implement fun workplace wellness challenges that encourage camaraderie, and workplace leisure.

Social Wellness: Fostering a great social environment, and peer connection at your company is the best way to help employees with social wellness. Sometimes people just need a common activity to connect with each other, and ease the social anxiety that some people may feel. A great way to help your employees with social wellness is to turn colleagues into team mates through a product like Leagues and Events.

Financial Wellness: Helping your employees create healthy financial habits will lead to reduced financial stress, and improved productivity all around. You might want to get started on this journey by helping your employees set financial goals, and provide them with the incentive to meet those goals.

Spiritual Wellness: This may be as simple as creating a dedicated space in your office for your employees to practice their spiritual beliefs, and routines. You are essentially aiming to create a safe space, where everyone can practice their spiritual belief without any judgement.

7 Ways to increase employee participation in wellness programs

Here are 7 helpful ways to help you motivate your employees to take part in your wellness program. These tips can be used every time you think of implementing a new employee benefit, or auditing your wellness program.

  1. Choose the Right Rewards for Corporate Wellness Program Benefits: Just like anything in life, everyone has their own motivating factors, and rewards that they are interested in. Broadly speaking, there are two categories for motivation:
    • Intrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation comes from within, and could be anything from the satisfaction that an employee gets for completing an action, or seeing their work valued by the broader company community. This type of motivation is meant to build self-confidence.
    • Extrinsic Motivation: This is the traditional type of motivation, where someone is rewarded with a prize, raise, promotion, etc.
    • If you are interested in further reading, check out this short post about why corporate wellness programs work!
  2. Spread out the Rewards for your Wellness Program: In order to maintain retention, and engagement in your wellness program, don’t time box rewards for a certain part of your wellness program. For example, don’t wait to give out rewards at the neck-end of a wellness program, nor should you give out perks/rewards at the onset alone. A regular flow of rewards will build lasting, and repeatable habits. You can also use these 6 employee recognition ideas for your wellness program, so that each reward has it’s own social benefit as well.
  3. Increase your Employees’ understanding of Wellbeing Needs & Offerings: According to Gartner employees have an incomplete understanding of wellbeing offerings available, and they are also unsure about their own wellbeing needs. Therefore, HR should increase employees’ awareness of wellbeing needs, and offerings so that they can better participate in wellness program design. A key part of this is to actively promote, and build awareness for your new employee wellness program.
  4. Reduce Wellbeing Stigma: Many employees don’t voice their opinions on wellbeing needs, and wants due to a fear of being stigmatized in the company when it comes to mental and emotional health. HR leaders can reduce this stigma by encouraging employees’ to share their wellbeing success stories, so that wellbeing is more accepted.
  5. Help your Employees Understand the Program and Why it’s There: If you don’t provide background information on the wellness program, and why it exists, only a small percentage of your workforce will engage with it. Some employees will be confused, and many more just won’t care. By educating your employees about the wellness program, and telling them why it exists, your employees can see the value in what is being offered.
  6. Make the Wellness Program Accessible: If wellness program activities are time bound, and inaccessible for some employees, that will cause participation rates to go down (ex., a company walking challenge at 9pm). On the flip-side, wellness programs should be accessible for people of all different abilities, and disabilities. Something else to consider, is that you want to design your wellness program to fit your office culture to get maximum buy-in!
  7. Start with Management using the Program: If management itself doesn’t use the wellness program, then who will? That’s why its best for management to showcase how they are using the wellness program through a company newsletter, or company blog. This lead to increased usage throughout the entire company!

6 Benefits of Wellness Programs

There are countless benefits of implementing a wellness program at your organization, in this section we’ll share the top 6 benefits:

  1. Control your Health Coverage Costs, and Expenses: Employees with more health risk factors (including being overweight, smoking, having diabetes, etcetera, cost more to insure and pay health coverage costs for as opposed to healthy people. So a wellness program helps create healthy habits for your employees in order to curb the risk of disease, or harmful habits.
  2. Improved Productivity for Your Employee(s): Healthier employees are more productive, and efficient. With health-centric workplace wellness programs, and the wellness incentives that go along with them, your employees will be motivated to become healthier. This is in contrast to unhealthy employees, who usually create the problem of presenteeism or absenteeism.
  3. Reduce Workers’ Compensation, and Disability Expenses: Once again, healthier employees have a lower chance of workplace injury, illness, and/or disability. This pays off in a big way for employers, as they can see lower insurance premiums, and also a lowered cost of recruiting and training related to replacing injured employees. The CDC found that employers can save as much as 25% on these expenses after implementing a successful workplace wellness program.
  4. Reduced Stress Levels: A strong wellness program can help employees developing coping mechanisms for stress through healthy behaviours such as exercise, meditation, peer support, and much more. Reducing the stress levels for your employees leads to a more easy-going workplace culture, and enhanced team productivity (stress has a ripple effect, both ways).
  5. Improved Teamwork: By participating in wellness programs together, specifically the team based activities, employees can build a sense of camaraderie. Taking part in wellness activities outside of work can also help with team bonding, which will result in improved communication and collaboration in the workplace.
  6. Boost Team Morale & Make Recruitment Easier: Showing your employees that you care by investing in their health will play a huge impact in improving employee morale. This will also make retention easier, so a successful wellness program will help you tackle turnover. Companies that have successfully solved the turnover problem are usually easier to recruit for as well. The commitment to employee wellness will indicate a high quality company culture to any potential candidates, so your company will have better chances of recruiting top talent in a competitive market. Employees who experience positive changes, and healthier behaviours through your company wellness program will feel more loyalty, increased productivity, and consequentially a stronger, less expensive workforce.

Why employee wellness matters to your bottom line?

Here are some research backed statistics on the ROI of a wellness program for employers:

  • In 2019, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that after 18 months of starting a wellness program, employees self-reported higher rates of regular exercise and weight management, but there were “no significant differences in other health outcomes, [and] no improvements in health care spending” found that about $1.50 total ROI per dollar invested, based on a reduction in health care costs.
  • Interestingly, returns differ based on what type of program is implemented: $3.80 for disease management for every dollar invested. Additionally, the study concluded that lifestyle management can “significantly” reduce absenteeism, which can also contribute to cost savings over time.
  • Here are some alternative ways to calculate how your wellness program can deliver a positive ROI.

The research is clear, that wellness programs have a net positive ROI for employers. The important factor to consider is that everyone will however calculate ROI in a different manner. That’s why it’s important to create your own ROI measurement framework. To do so, you can view our guide on measuring the ROI of workplace wellness:

If you are interested in implementing a wellness program for your organization, please take advantage of our 30 day no-risk, free trial to see how a wellness program can give you a competitive advantage as an employer!

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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