Employee Wellness Programs – Improve Your Health, Improve Your Bottom Line

As healthcare costs continue to rise, many companies are turning to employee wellness programs to help keep their costs down. Wellness programs complement traditional health insurance by focusing on disease prevention, disease management and health education.In fact, a paper produced for the American Journal of Health Promotion (2003), illustrates that on average employee wellness programs provide:a 28% reduction in sick leave absenteeism,
a 26% reduction in health care costs, and
a 30% reduction in worker’s compensation claims and disability management. Considering the average cost-to-savings benefit ranges from $3-$6 for every dollar invested, it’s easy to see why these programs are becoming more and more attractive.In addition to reducing health care costs, wellness programs offer a number of other benefits for employers and employees alike:Healthy employees perform their jobs easier and provide increased productivity.
Employees who are given opportunities to participate in these programs report a stronger sense that their employer cares about their well-being, which in turn increases their morale and productivity.
Exercise has been shown to improve quality of life, mental performance and time management skills. Employees who exercise reap these benefits, as do their employers.
Employees who are educated about self-care and proper use of health insurance benefits tend to become more cost-conscious. Wellness programs can also help provide a sense of community within a workplace. Employees can be encouraged to take part in group exercise (walks at lunch or breaks), share brown-bagged meals together and even participate in group health challenges where rewards are provided by the employer for achieving certain goals.Weight loss challenges in particular are popular among employees where rewards can be provided for achieving 10%, 50% and even 100% of weight loss goals. Popular rewards include permission to come in late when an employee has achieved 10% of their weight loss goal (10% = 10am), gift certificates to purchase new clothes at 50% and full days off at 100%. Some companies may prefer to offer monetary compensation also.Even employees who choose not to participate in a wellness program can benefit from company-wide initiatives such as replacing the candy dish with fruit, dispersing water bottles and pedometers and the overall change in atmosphere that comes when groups of people make the choice to become more conscientious about their health.In a day and age where health care costs can rise by as much as 40% or more from year-to-year, wellness programs just make sense.