As of a year ago, Forbes stated that 70% of U.S. companies have some form of wellness program in place. However, having a wellness program does not guarantee success and financial kickback. Many employers find that their current wellness program only sucks money from their budgets without providing any positive return. Further, many employers find that their wellness program is just a “necessary evil” to keep their image in line. Employee participation has popped up as a huge issue in the news lately. The majority of employers have found that participation perks or incentives do not assist in employee participation levels increasing. Employees participating is necessary for a company’s wellness program to succeed.
Many companies create or incur, over time, completely random wellness programs without looking at their employee demographics. This can include age, financial and religious backgrounds, family situations, and, most importantly, the type of work they perform during the day. Lifestyles outside of work can be an important fact in assisting with a wellness program as well. Taking time to analyze employee demographics and align wellness programs with a company’s business plans can have very positive effects on the success of a wellness program.
People who have active, physical jobs, some of which are very stressful and require precision, may benefit more from details such as a healthier nutritional lunch, a quiet place in the building or outside where they can go to relax and recuperate. This can greatly increase their productivity potential.
Employees whose jobs require them to be sited in static positions for 8+ hours a day, will need a different approach. It is imperative that they have some flexibility that allows them to take hourly breaks, change positions, or have proper space for getting up and doing simple exercises. Basic workplace exercise programs involving simple movement are also very beneficial. Peer led groups can help increase participation and recuse costs of fancy exercise facilities or outside instructors. At the same time, they can help raise morale by allowing employees more involvement outside of their main job function which, in turn, will give them the feeling of a deeper ownership.
Exercise and Gym Rooms in the Workplace
This is not a new concept. Workforce states that it all started many years ago with business owners, executives, and top management putting some exercise equipment next to their offices. They did this to save time in their busy schedules or to save their company from having to pay for gym memberships. Those options eventually extended to other levels of employees and evolved into corporate wellness programs. However, statistics of people using those options are worrisome and the costs associated with implementing them are quite high. There are two sides of the spectrum, some employees who are already very athletic-minded outside of work, will switch to using employee-provided benefits to save money without this creating any additional value for the employer. On the other hand, employees who are opposed to a wellness program (health issues, lack of time, other personal interests, etc.), will not use one regardless of efforts made by the employer. In addition, many employers ignore the fact that workplace-based exercise programs and gyms can result in multiple serious injuries that then translate into increased healthcare costs, absenteeism, and even BWC claims. However, workplace-sponsored fitness and exercise programs are not completely hopeless. It just requires a bit of organization in order to come up with an appropriate and financially viable package that will meet certain employer’s demographics, needs, and culture.
WorkFlexibility points out that childcare in the workplace or employer-sponsored childcare centers can help significantly reduce stress and anxiety for working parents. This concept will assist a working parent in better focusing on their work as well as reduce absentee rates. Absentee rates can be reduced by 27% during the school season and, for some organizations, it can be reduced by over 53% during school breaks and school closings.
Employees being involved in hobby-based groups, community programs, etc. can result in positive effects on employee morale, company image, diversity, and more.
Medical screenings such as blood sugar, BMI, and cholesterol tests leave many employees feeling like their privacy has been violated. This can further make them feel that their employer is gaining too much control over their lives which can create a lot of resistance and non-compliance. Outside of this, screenings of this type and subsequent medical claims are extremely costly to the companies and rarely have long-term positive effects. This is due to the constant loss and gain of employees. New employees must start at the beginning of a program while the employees who were lost will have already been an investment that was essentially wasted. More authentic programs based on positive wellness culture, such as the ability to take a short walk outside, healthy meals, and a lunch speaker series aimed to raise health awareness, may be more beneficial, less intrusive and less costly to an employer. Other techniques may include healthy cooking tools, purchasing perks, discounts for healthy cooking classes, and grocery store discounts. Some employers implement weekly local farmer’s markets in the workplace to allow employees to have access to healthier foods. Other options include recipe sharing or healthy potluck lunches that allow people to come together to create better and more personal team relationships.
It involves art and science to create a meaningful and fruitful wellness program that will remain with a company and continually shape its image and culture. A great wellness program can positively touch employee’s lives and positively affect a company’s financial well-being. We have the expertise. If you have doubts about the effectiveness of your current wellness program or even if you’re looking to introduce a new one, contact us for more information!