OD/U3 Topic 8 Employee Wellness Interventions
When you have healthy employees, your company reaps the benefits. A correctly designed wellness program can increase productivity, boost moral and reduce stress. Wellness programs help employees make smart and healthy choices that can reduce health care costs, increase vitality and diminish absenteeism. In general, the costs of implementing a wellness program are minimal compared to the benefits, reports Gaebler Resources for Entrepreneurs.
Wellness is “an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make choices (healthy choices),” says Wellness Proposals, an independent wellness consultant. Wellness means more than simply not being ill; it focuses on keeping your body in good condition so it runs more efficiently and you stay well longer. True wellness is proactive; recognize that you have mental, physical and social needs to operate at top functionality.
Definition of Wellness Program
A wellness program is any program implemented by an employer to improve the health of its labor force. A good wellness program also helps “individual employees overcome specific health-related issues,” reports Gaebler. You can provide mandatory staff training, employee seminars or even operate through a third-party provider with a range of programs. Often, employers are willing to foot the bill because health and wellness directly affect productivity and profits.
A 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that among Texas adults, roughly 28 percent reported not engaging in any physical activities during the preceding month, reports the Texas Department of State Health Service. According to other DSHS numbers, “more than 61 percent of adults and 35 percent of school-age children in Texas are overweight or obese.” Important health indicators, such as body mass index, cholesterol and blood sugar levels “have spiraled to unhealthy levels in many workers,” says Chris Henry in a May 29, 2010, article in the “Kitsap Sun”: Employee Wellness Programs: The Work Perk That Really Works? Modern employees are suffering from long days in front of a computer screen or behind a desk with lots of stress and little physical activity. Employers are starting to notice the effect on their bottom line and this leads to an increased focus on wellness programs.
Employers benefit from having healthy employees. Employees benefit from being healthy and having the assistance they need to address and maintain personal wellness. Many employees show weight reduction and improved physical fitness and stamina through company wellness programs. Reports also show an increase in well-being, self-image and self-esteem, while at the same time resulting in a decrease in stress.
Beyond concern for the health of your employees, wellness programs make sense for purely practical reasons. Soon after inception of a wellness program, Gaebler points out, you should see a drop in absenteeism and sick days. Wellness programs also reduce the number of work-related injuries and repetitive strain injuries. That means fewer worker’s compensation claims, which saves both you and your insurer money. According to Gaebler, “a more reliable workforce will inevitably translate into a smoother work cycle and a more robust bottom line.” Henry cites a study by the Washington State Health Care Authority documenting a nationwide three-to-one return on each dollar invested in an employee wellness program.
Wellness programs can cover a wide range of health-related issues. It’s entirely up to you to tailor your company’s program to meet the needs of your employees. Most programs offer at least some of the following options: nutrition, physical fitness, a quit-smoking program, physiological testing such as cholesterol and blood pressure screening, and stress management.