If you have implemented a corporate wellness program in your company as an employer, your aim must have been to enhance productivity by minimizing the health costs incurred in employee absenteeism due to ill health.
However, implementing the program is only one part of the equation- whether your employees are honestly participating is more important.
More often than not, employees generally tend to avoid corporate wellness programs and make all kinds of excuses because they don’t want to get involved.
Despite the true effectiveness of the program, you can get saddled with a workers’ compensation claim due to the unhealthy lifestyle of your employees.
The Bane of Employees’ Unhealthy Lifestyle
Employees, especially those with sedentary jobs, suffer from physical inactivity more often than they should.
They may also eat a poor diet composed of junk food due to the non-availability of healthy options- which further compounds the situation. Thus, it is not surprising to find employees who increasingly have Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and other “lifestyle” diseases.
For example, in the US alone there are 30 million employees who have Type 2 diabetes and another 84 million who are diagnosed as pre-diabetics.
The cost of managing diseases is a whopping $300 billion much of which is footed by employers.
Not only does this include the cost of medical care but also lost work days and decreased productivity.
The Need for Corporate Wellness Programs
Unhealthy employees are a burden on the employer since they have to bear much of their financial impact. The health and productivity of employees make corporate wellness programs a necessity.
Such programs focus on three essentials– mental health, physical health, and nutrition.
If employees are given adequate rest time or granted authorized vacation time, it helps tremendously in improving their mental health. However, the ground realities are different for most companies.
According to Project Time Off, a Washington-based coalition, almost 206 million vacation days were forfeited by employees in 2016 alone.
Proper corporate wellness programs emphasize the importance of adequate rest time and vacations.
If employees stay healthy, it reduces expenses incurred on medical bills and increases productivity.
By introducing a corporate wellness program, the employer can address all aspects needed to keep employees healthy.
Potential aspects include:
- On-Site Screenings
- Weight Loss Programs for Overweight Employees
- Exercise or Yoga Classes
- Smoking De-Addiction Workshops
- Stress Reduction Classes
- Reimbursement for Independent Gym Memberships
It is incumbent on the employer to provide healthy food to its employees in its company canteens.
The food should be highly nutritious and stimulate productivity.
In no way should it include unhealthy items that contribute towards obesity and other unhealthy consequences.
Making Your Corporate Wellness Program a Success
It is up to the employers to not only introduce a corporate wellness program in their organization but also to ensure that the employees fully use it.
For this, the program needs to be attractive enough to excite them.
Corporate wellness programs take a cue from behavioral economics combined with psychology to gauge what will work for them regarding making the program attractive.
For this reason, these programs usually contain a mix of traditional programs coupled with emerging methods. It has been observed that such steps serve to increase employee participation.
What is more important in making such programs attractive is how it is packaged.
In a study, two types of messages were framed to announce the implementation of a workplace wellness program.
One said, “Get Game! Have Fun”, while the other simply stated, “Regular physical activity is important for good health.”
The first message got more responses since this positive framing excited the employees, who looked forward to participating in it. The other message was not well received since it conveyed a burdensome duty that needed to be accomplished.
The lessons drawn from the scenarios above are clear. The workplace wellness programs need to be packaged right, and more importantly, conveyed positively.
Corporate health programs should give a feeling of personal achievement to employees, along with an opportunity for social interaction and fun.
Even the content of these programs should contain games, instant gratification through rewards, and other enjoyable moments.
Another important aspect of the corporate wellness program is providing health literacy to the employees. Providing education on living a healthy lifestyle helps them to make informed decisions based on their understanding of health information.
According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 90 percent of employees lack health literacy.
Concluding Thoughts | Benefits of a Corporate Wellness Program
Wellness programs work when their implementation turns the employees into a healthier and happier workforce.
It not only increases a company’s productivity but also lowers the risk of:
- Lifestyle-Related Diseases
- Stress-Related Burnouts
- Employee Turnover
However, the success of such programs depends upon its publicity and implementation.