The importance of employee wellness programs has greatly increased over the past several years. As heath care expenditures are soaring, there is an increasing interest among policy-makers, insurers and employers in methods of improving health while lowering cost. Karen Smith points out in her article entitled Why Workplace Wellness is Important that “changing our behavior is ultimately up to each of us as individuals. However, employers have a tremendous opportunity to help their employees see the value of adopting healthier behaviors so that they can live healthier lives.” Below are my top two reasons why you should implement an employee wellness program.
Healthy employees cost you less. Studies have shown that nearly 50% of an organization’s profits are consumed by employee healthcare costs. Medical claim costs can go down, as well as a reduction in lost work days. Not to mention, highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary turn-over than do those whose programs have low effectiveness, according to this Harvard article by Katherine Baicker, David Cutler, Zirhui Song entitled Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings.
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” –Elle Woods (Sorry, I had to work in this quote from the movie Legally Blonde somehow). But really, studies show that when you exercise, endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters) are released. Employee wellness programs can help to increase productivity, boost employee morale, and decrease stress levels. When your employees are happy, the company is happy.
Now is the perfect time to implement an employee wellness program. Many have made New Year’s resolutions to begin exercise programs and eat healthier, so why not encourage their efforts by creating a “healthy work culture”? Most companies find that wellness programs are more cost effective when they are implemented as part of a larger companywide recognition and incentive program. The best thing about employee wellness programs is that they don’t have to center around exercise. Sure, exercise is great, but so are stress management classes, smoking cessation, and back care programs. When it comes to employee wellness programs and employee’s health, disease prevention and health promotion are key in lowering costs.