Workplace Wellness Programs and what they mean for your company
Workplace wellness programs, or employee wellness programs as they’re sometimes called, are fast becoming the buzz about town. Praised as a way to improve employee performance and cut down on health costs, wellness programs are being implemented at an unprecedented rate. But what are they, exactly? Here we walk you through the basics of workplace wellness programs, their benefits, and wellness program ideas to implement at your company.
A workplace wellness program is a system of company-sponsored activities, policies, and/or resources that promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors in the workforce. Programs can include health screenings, health seminars and coaching, subsidization of gym memberships, on-site workout facilities, company sport events, and more. Wellness programs vary from company to company, but their general aim is to encourage and reward healthy living by offering incentives.
One possible incentive is discounted health insurance premiums. Under the Affordable Care Act, the discount that employers can offer on insurance premiums has increased, from 20% of the total health care cost to 30%. When this incentive is offered by an employer, employees can reap cost benefits by enrolling in workplace wellness programs and leading healthy lives.
Companies save big too, because healthier employees can mean lower health care costs. A review published by the American Journal of Health Promotion found that companies saved $3.48 in health care costs for every $1 they spent in workplace wellness efforts. That’s more than a 3 to 1 return on investment! What’s more, that $1 may not have to come from your company’s bank – the Affordable Care Act made $200 million available in federal grants for companies looking to implement a wellness program.
We’ve already outlined the financial benefit of Workplace wellness programs, but the advantages go even further. A healthier workforce means:
- fewer sick leaves
- less absenteeism
- heightened morale
- increased productivity
Though it is often over-looked, Workplace wellness programs also go a long way in generating workforce cohesion. Participating in activities outside of immediate work-related tasks leads employees to view each other as more than just coworkers. Some wellness programs feature sport events that directly encourage employees to work together, be a team, and have fun. Companies that implement wellness programs often find that their employees know each other more, work together better, and generate a happier workplace atmosphere.
Wellness Program Ideas
Some companies hire outside agencies to establish their wellness programs, while others organize wellness programs from within. The advantage to hiring out is that health resource companies have the means to conduct health screenings, seminars, coaching, etc, which may not be readily available otherwise. But even without outside help, your company can still implement an effective program.
As we discussed earlier, the key is incentive – how will you incentivize your employees to participate in your program? It could be something like gift cards, event passes, T-shirts, etc. Sometimes companies do a combination of support toward health goals and a discounted insurance premium if goals are met, so for example if an employee attends a health screening, he or she receives a free T-shirt. If that employee meets health targets as a result of that screening, such as lowered cholesterol levels or blood pressure, then he or she receives a discounted insurance premium!
There are many different things a wellness program can consist of, such as:
- subsidization of gym memberships
- on-site workout facilities and/or fitness classes
- healthier options in the vending machine
- standing desks
- a wellness newsletter
- company sport events
- health screenings and coaching
- health food lunches
- lunchtime running/walking club
Some wellness efforts are more involved and costly, while others are simple and inexpensive.
Companies everywhere are finding that workplace wellness programs improve their employee morale and performance, generate savings in health care costs and greatly enhance the workplace atmosphere. Employees, meanwhile, are enjoying their discounted insurance premiums and healthier lifestyles. And with $200 million in federal grants made available under the Affordable Care Act, implementing a workplace wellness program could be more affordable than ever. So don’t delay – get started with a workplace wellness program and reap the benefits!
If you have questions on how to get a workplace wellness program started or how to enhance your current workplace wellness program, contact The Accel Group info@acceladvantage.