What are Employee Wellness Programs?
Employee wellness programs are programs undertaken by an employer in order to improve employee health and also to help individual employees overcome particular health-related problems. The employer can offer compulsory employee training, staff seminars, or even work with a third-party provider offering a variety of wellness programs.
Employees are invaluable assets of any company, and ensuring their excellent mental and physical health sets them up to perform well. The health and wellness of its employees usually have a direct effect on the productivity and profits of a company. Many employers understand this and are ready to spend money on such programs.
Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
Even though the advantages of an employee wellness program may be hard to see at first glance, employees who are healthy usually bring a range of benefits to other employees and to the companies they work for. Here are some of the benefits of an employee wellness program.
1. More productivity
Employees who eat healthily and exercise regularly are likely to be more productive than those who don’t. Poor health behaviors are usually linked to high levels of unproductivity and ultimately lead to higher health risks and chronic diseases.
2. High employee morale
Wellness programs make employees feel appreciated and valued. Employees are happier when they feel appreciated and valued by their employers. The offer of wellness programs usually leads to more enthusiastic employees at work.
3. Improve recruitment and retention of employees
Good wellness programs will help companies to hire, as well as retain, the best employees. Many people are strongly influenced by the presence of health offerings and other benefits when they choose an employer. Wellness plans also play a vital role in employee retention, by helping to keep the employees loyal.
4. Reduced absenteeism
Workplaces with comprehensive wellness programs experience less absenteeism, due to employees being healthier and suffering less stress, leading to cost savings.
5. Reduced health risks
Helping employees to adopt healthy behaviors such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding tobacco lowers health risks. Low health risks lead to reduced health care costs.
6. Building camaraderie among workers
Some initiatives offer employees the chance to experience other activities unrelated to work, such as participating in a sports team, going to the gym, or eating lunch together. The interaction of co-workers facilitates bonding that helps teams work better together.
Examples of Employee Wellness Initiatives
Below are a few examples of employee wellness initiatives that can be adopted in the workplace:
1. Healthy lunch and snacks
With only a few minutes to take lunch, many workers opt to eat fast food. Employers can provide enough time for their team members during lunchtime to hit the gym, play a sport, or even head home to eat a healthy homemade lunch. Companies such as Google manage cafeterias that offer catered snacks and lunches to their workers in the course of the day, where employees from different teams can interact and make new friends.
There are also healthy snack delivery services that have emerged lately. Such services deliver healthy snacks to employee offices instead of them having to go out looking for food. Since everyone needs to eat, good snack and lunch programs and the promotion of healthy eating at the workplace appeals to everyone.
2. Assistance programs
Employee wellness programs should cater not only to the bodies of the employees but also to their minds. Employers can provide personal support for issues such as substance abuse, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many work-related stress issues experienced by employees can be addressed through guided support programs outside the workplace. Such programs help employees to achieve peace of mind so that they can perform at their best. They boost confidence and satisfaction between the employer and the employees.
A siesta after lunch during a hectic day always leaves one feeling reinvigorated. For this reason, innovative companies such as Asana, Zappos, and Facebook usually have specialized nap rooms where workers who want to take a brief nap after lunch can go. Employees can return to their projects with renewed energy after catching a quick nap. Naps have been clinically proven to provide benefits in productivity.
4. Fitness activities
Employees who sit long hours in an office need time to exercise or move around. Some companies provide on-site gym services and fitness classes to help their employees keep fit. Some even have after-work exercise groups, swimming pools, and sports grounds for their staff.
5. Community service activities
Doing good deeds and helping others usually make many people feel good and fulfilled. Employers can organize a day where staff can volunteer in the community. Employees can form fundraisers and groups for causes they feel passionate about. Such programs also help facilitate closer relationships among employees.
Steps to Launching an Employee Wellness Program
The following are some basic steps for implementing a successful employee wellness program at the workplace.
1. Set goals that will benefit both the company and the staff
When creating a wellness program, it is important that you don’t lose sight of your main objective. Ensure that all parts of the program provide benefits for both the staff and the company. It is crucial that wellness programs cater to the audience of your employees.
2. Set up a dedicated team
A comprehensive wellness program takes a lot of time and work to create. It is wise to form a good team capable of handling the project. Even though the team is likely to have HR lead it, it should also include people who have a good understanding of the employees and who have an interest in promoting a healthy workplace.
3. Collect data
Do adequate research by talking with employees to identify the areas that need to be addressed. This can be done through face-to-face meetings and internal surveys.
4. Make a plan
After collecting the right data, the next step is to develop the goals of the wellness program and the strategies that can be used to achieve them. Steps for periodically evaluating the initiative should also be created.
5. Communicate the program
The wellness program should be communicated to employees. They should be able to understand the schemes that are involved, the importance of wellness, and the positive effect it will have on their lives.
6. Acquire feedback and adjust the wellness program
A good employee wellness program is continuously optimized. The team should always be open to new ideas and feedback to improve the program and make employees even healthier.
Employees who are healthy and happy usually have higher levels of productivity than those who are not. It’s a win-win situation, as it leads to many benefits for the company. Wellness programs don’t just increase productivity but also lead to increased engagement, improved employee morale and retention, and reduced health risks.
There is a positive connection between employee wellness and the performance of a business. A good employee wellness program should cater to the employees’ emotional, physical, mental, and financial wellness. Generally, the benefits of implementing comprehensive employee wellness programs surpass the costs.