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The Many Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

26 December 2018

If you're considering making wellness a more significant focus in your workplace culture — helping employees find the right work-life balance so that they can focus on their overall well-being — it's important to know the benefits of employee wellness programs and how you can implement one in your own organization.

How Wellness Programs Benefit Both the Company and Employees

In days past, wellness programs were created as a primary means to lower an employer's health care costs, and it's easy to see why. According to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) study, employers can expect a $1 to $3 decrease in overall health care costs for every dollar spent on a wellness initiative.

However, there are so many additional reasons why organizations choose to focus on workplace wellness. In the press release for the study, Michael Wilson, IFEBP CEO, said, "We're also seeing other advantages from wellness initiatives, such as higher employee morale, increased productivity and reduced disability."

By implementing a wellness program in your company, you're showing your employees that they're valued and cared for, in turn making them happier and more productive. That boosts morale in both the short and long term. Plus, in a competitive job market, wellness programs can be used as a recruitment tool to attract and retain top talent. Salary is no longer the only consideration when a candidate is considering job offers, and an option like a wellness program can add to the overall benefits package they are offered.

Employee Wellness Program Ideas

Now that you understand the benefits of employee wellness programs, it's time to design one that will work best for your organization. But, where do you begin? Your best bet is to survey your staff to find out exactly what they want from the initiative.

Some employees may want healthy living challenges, such as a Biggest Loser-style weight loss program or weekly yoga classes, while others may prefer short lunch-and-learn classes on mental health topics, such as stress management or meditation. Other employees might simply ask for ergonomic furniture options, such as standing desks, or access to more nutritious snack options in the break room. Remember that a wellness program is meant to be a permanent fixture, and you don't need to implement everything at once. Simply start wherever you feel most comfortable and add to the program as time goes on.

Be creative with your approach, too. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that LinkedIn focused on sleep quality as their 2017 initiative, and held a wellness fair that taught employees sleep tips and tricks from experts. The National Council on Compensation Insurance offered an onsite farmer's market, biometric screening services and personal health coaching to their employees. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a wellness culture, and the program can be changed as often as you'd like.

Remember, considering a few mental and physical health-related employee wellness program ideas is a great place to start, but there are many more layers to wellness from which your staff can benefit. Take financial wellness, for example. In the same SHRM article, Rob Levy, the managing director of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, said, "People who are more financially stressed take more days off work for health-related issues." He also notes that financial anxiety may cost organizations upwards of $7,000 per employee per year. By offering money-oriented webinars or short trainings during the workday, you're building a diverse program that benefits employees in numerous facets of their lives.

A worksite wellness program is a great way to boost morale, increase employee retention and reduce health care costs. When you involve your staff and learn more about what they want from the initiative, you can curate a program that will thrive in your organization now, and for years to come.