Did you know healthy employees are more productive employees? A meta-study by the Institute for Health Care Consumerism found that employees who participated in a corporate wellness program took a full 28 percent fewer sick days. Meaning that’s 28 percent more work they could be doing.
Happy employees are of even greater benefit. A study from AFLAC found that employees who participated in corporate wellness programs were “more likely to have a higher level of job satisfaction, feel happier with their employer, and be more satisfied with their overall benefits.” And a motivated employee, as you know, is more productive.
And even if employee happiness is not nearly as important to you as the bottom line, consider this: That same meta-study found that corporate wellness programs reduced health costs by 26 percent, and workers comp and disability costs by 30 percent.
Between happy employees and saved money, there is absolutely no excuse to not have some sort of corporate wellness program in place, especially for a small business. Insurers see this when they set your health care premiums, and every dollar you can save there will dwarf the cost of setting up a program.
Wellness, if you’re not a mountain-dwelling health guru, is about a lot more than just offering fresh fruit in the breakroom and a $10 a month discount top your local gym. It’s about creating a company culture of health that gets people engaging in healthier habits.
Of course, like any major change, it is easier said than done.
The first step is to ask your employees what they’d like to see in a wellness program. More importantly, find out what motivates them to be healthier, and incorporate as much of it as you can. Like with any incentive system, what motivates you might not motivate them, so get their feedback and use that to start your planning.
Secondly, determine what your goals are for the program. Time spent exercising met? Steps taken per day? Participation in group wellness activities? Setting specific goals for your employees is crucial to getting buy-in, so they all know what they’re striving for.
Next, you may be able to work with your insurance provider to conduct health risk assessments with all employees. Many providers offer wellness programs to help you decrease your insurance rates and it’s a surprisingly short process, where you find which behaviors employees engage in that are counterproductive to wellness, and work with them to set specific goals. One employee might be in great shape, but perpetually stressed because she can’t disconnect from work. Another might smoke. Wellness is not one size fits all, so your insurance provider can work with each employee individually to develop goals for physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Also, take a look at health insurance claims from the last year you have data, and see which types of issues your employees are having. If you notice a trend that might be fixable with a wellness program, make that one of the focal points.
And finally, if all this seems like yet another thing you don’t have time for, outsource it. There are companies that develop corporate wellness programs everywhere.
So yes, while we did say wellness was more than simply offering healthy food and gym memberships, you should do that too. After all, it’s hard to encourage people to participate in your wellness program, and invite everyone to the office Happy Hour.
“Lead by Example” wellness programs start with corporate culture. And that culture begins with you. So even if you are already in great shape, you need to be the wellness program’s biggest cheerleader and most avid participant.
Employee wellness is not really something that’s optional. With healthcare costs remaining a major expense for small business, the more you can mitigate these costs, the greater your chance for success. And with more money and better workers, you might even be able to stress less and experience a healthier you.