Employees have reshaped their expectations in a post-pandemic world, prioritizing their well-being and demanding employers align with their needs. Given that employee wellness is a predictor of numerous business outcomes, such as employee engagement, customer engagement, turnover, and workplace safety, companies must invest in their most valuable asset—their employees— to achieve success.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to implement a holistic wellness program. By addressing all dimensions of well-being, these programs optimize employees’ health on every level, demonstrating authentic care and optimizing their performance. This article explores eight transformative benefits of wellness programs that strengthen employee health while enriching the workplace.
Pressed for time? Here’s a quick summary:
- Employee wellness programs offer a host of benefits, from boosting engagement and morale to reducing stress and absenteeism.
- Employee wellness programs enhance a company’s image, attracting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market.
- It’s crucial to build a culture of health in tandem with a wellness program to unlock the full potential of a thriving workforce.
- To measure the success of a wellness program, organizations should shift to a value-on-investment (VOI) framework.
8 Benefits Of Wellness Programs For Employees
1. Improves Employee Health
Behavior change is at the core of an effective employee wellness program. By offering a variety of targeted initiatives, a wellness program can encourage and reinforce healthy habits that help employees enhance multiple dimensions of well-being beyond just the traditional focus on physical fitness.
Some key elements of healthy behaviors include:
- A balanced diet
- Regular physical activity
- Stress management
- Quitting or limiting substance use
- Getting adequate sleep
- Maintaining healthy social relationships
- Pursuing personal growth and purpose
- Following good financial wellness practices
Many employee wellness initiatives can support multiple facets of health. For instance, introducing on-site fitness classes as a part of a wellness program can promote physical activity, alleviate stress, and strengthen connections among employees, thereby addressing physical, mental, and social well-being. This comprehensive approach leads to improved health outcomes for employees and nurtures a vibrant, thriving workforce.
Nearly 90% of employees working for companies with wellness programs report being happy and engaged with their job and would recommend it to a friend.
2. Boosts Engagement & Productivity
Employees are engaged when a company feels more like a community than a production hub. Nearly 90% of employees working for companies with wellness programs report being happy and engaged with their job and would recommend it to a friend. Wellness programs demonstrate an employer’s commitment to employee well-being while connecting team members through shared challenges, activities, and healthy workplace rituals. This cultivates community and motivation within the workforce.
When employees feel their best, they perform their best. Employees with excellent well-being are less hindered by physical ailments, mental health issues, financial stress, feelings of loneliness, and lack of purpose. While personal struggles are inevitable, wellness programs equip employees with the resources to confidently bring their best selves to work, boosting overall productivity.
3. Alleviates Stress
Wellness programs can play a pivotal role in alleviating employee stress, among other health benefits. Through stress management and mindfulness workshops, meditation sessions, or designated tranquil spots in the workplace, employees can practice coping strategies and gain peace.
Workplace stress frequently results from burnout, often stemming from a lack of work-life balance. Wellness programs highlight the importance of caring for all aspects of one’s well-being rather than solely prioritizing professional contributions.
4. Reduces Absenteeism
A safe and healthy workplace decreases the frequency of absences due to injuries and illnesses. Consider some examples of initiatives offered through wellness programs that can help reduce absenteeism:
- Flu Shots: Offering preventive health services like flu shots help employees avoid getting sick and missing work.
- Clinics & Telemedicine: Access to on-site or near-site clinics or telemedicine services provide timely medical attention, reducing the need for prolonged absences due to health issues.
- Health Coaching: Health coaches help employees develop one healthy behavior at a time to maintain their physical and mental health, building resilience and reducing the likelihood of future injuries or illnesses. Some companies even offer AI health coaches as a cost-effective solution to cut down on expense while improving access to individualized care.
5. Improves Morale
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a well-known model that illustrates essential human needs. The bottom of the pyramid represents basic needs to sustain life. As individuals move up the pyramid, the focus shifts to fulfilling desires that make life rewarding and purposeful.
By prioritizing employee well-being through wellness programs, employers demonstrate that they value their employees as individuals, not just as workers. Through wellness initiatives, employees learn to take ownership of their health, develop problem-solving skills, and boost their self-esteem. These benefits contribute to improved employee morale, providing a sense of fulfillment and engagement both in and out of the workplace.
6. Supports Employee Retention & Recruitment
Wellness benefits are no longer a “nice-to-have” perk but a “must-have” essential for employers looking to attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market. When choosing an employer, 87% of employees consider health and wellness packages to be important factors. As employees continue pursuing more than just job security, wellness programs act as a crucial selling point for job-seekers and a tool to ensure the loyalty and satisfaction of current employees.
Offering an employee assistance program, health savings account, flexible spending account or lifestyle spending account that provides eligible employees with reimbursement, and additional resources as a part of the employee benefit package or corporate wellness programs can also be an attractive retention and recruitment tool.
7. Builds Teamwork
Wellness programs encourage employees to bond over their pursuits for better health, from holding each other accountable to hit their step goal to joining forces for a yoga class. This builds a culture of trust and support that transcends beyond the program. Workplace wellness team-building activities and team challenges promote camaraderie, enhancing communication and collaboration in the workplace.
8. Boosts Company Image
Investing in a comprehensive wellness program highlights an organization’s commitment to employee health, translating into a thriving corporate culture and positive brand perception. By embodying a “people first” approach, such organizations earn recognition as responsible and forward-thinking entities, demonstrating they value and care for their teams. This strategic initiative not only positions them as industry leaders but also underscores an unwavering dedication to nurturing the well-being and success of their workforce.
Who Owns Employee Wellness?
Ownership of worksite wellness programs typically falls under the responsibility of the human resources (HR) department. It is the HR department’s responsibility to design, implement, and promote wellness benefits that support the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of employees. However, leadership and management within the organization must also actively support and promote the wellness programs to ensure their success. Ultimately, the ownership of employee wellness is shared among the employer, HR department, and employees themselves, as all parties must work together to create a culture of wellness within the workplace.
How Do Wellness Programs Differ From Simply Offering Health Insurance?
Wellness programs and health insurance both aim to promote employee health and reduce health care costs, but they differ in their approach. Health plan provides coverage for medical expenses incurred for illness or injury, while wellness programs focus on preventing health problems by improving overall employee health and lifestyle choices. Wellness programs may provide resources such as fitness programs, mental health services, smoking cessation programs, and nutrition education to help employees lead healthier lifestyles. Additionally, wellness programs may offer incentives such as rewards or discounts for participating in healthy activities or achieving specific health goals.
Overall, wellness programs focus on proactively promoting good health, while health insurance mainly covers treatment for illness or injury after they occur.
Organizations can also use resources included in health plans or health insurance to supplement their wellness programs with disease management and prevention programs. For example, insurance plans generally cover diabetes prevention programs, which may include counseling, education, and lifestyle support for individuals at risk of developing the disease. This, in turn, can complement an organization’s wellness program efforts in promoting healthy behavior and reducing health risks.
Most plans are also required to cover preventive care, which can be in the form of an annual physical. Annual physicals are a great alternative to biometric screening or health assessment since they build physician-patient relationships yet do not require employers to store sensitive medical data, contributing to better privacy practices. Flu shots are also covered as part of preventive care, and employers can provide additional incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated during flu season, reducing absenteeism.
To unlock the full potential of worksite wellness programs, organizations must also create a culture of health. This involves prioritizing and promoting healthy behaviors through policies, practices, and norms that support employee well-being. A wellness program in tandem with a culture of health is the key to developing and sustaining a healthy workforce.
To measure the success of a wellness program, consider shifting to a value-on-investment (VOI) framework. While return on investment (ROI) is a popular way to justify investing in a wellness program, it does not capture the full scope of a program’s value. VOI achieves a complete view of program effectiveness beyond dollar-to-dollar cost, encompassing a broad range of advantages. These include the benefits highlighted in this article, all of which impact an organization’s bottom line.
Organizations can boost employee productivity and morale while reducing stress and absenteeism by implementing a corporate wellness program. These programs also enhance a company’s image, attracting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive job market. By investing in the well-being of their workforce, organizations create a symphony of success where each employee flourishes and contributes to an abundant future.