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Employee Wellness Programs Increase Health & Prosperity

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~by Heather Strohm

Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University

 

Businesses have encouraged employees to take a part in their own health for decades. As society has gradually become more health-conscious, employers have recognized the importance of providing health and wellness incentives to their employee base and embedding it as a core element of the organizational culture. Now, many businesses—large and small—recognize they have a great responsibility to provide for the well-being of employed Americans who spend an average of 54% of their waking time at work (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey, 2010). One way companies do this is by offering a workplace wellness program.

A recent, two-year study by researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that utilization of these programs only modestly affects participating employees’ actual health and healthcare use. However, the wellness programs they studied did show an increase in employees’ sense of well-being. Two self-reported health outcomes from the study (Damon, Molitor & Reif, 2019) did improve: 1) proportion of employees reporting that they had a primary care physician after 24 months and 2) an improved sense of being healthy. Another pre-pandemic study by Business Group on Health (BGH) found that “the importance of employer-sponsored well-being programs had increased for workers feeling emotional, physical and financial strains (Alight, 2020).”

There are many considerations with an employee wellness program. Through interactive discussion between employers and employees, your business will uncover the steps you need to choose the right wellness program and/or focus on helping employees improve their workplace well-being by: managing self-awareness, discovering what you need to do to help yourself, recognizing when a fellow team member needs support, learning how to adjust to changes, and recharging effectively in the new work-at-home/hybrid reality. To bring those personal strengths to light, each company needs to craft a wellness plan that is unique to them, their preferences, their community, and their home/work realities.

Why invest in employee wellness?

Wellness programs in the workplace also promote such well-being component as physical fitness, nutrition and mental health, which improve the abilities of your employees to work more efficiently and effectively. Corporate health and wellness programs are also a good investment for your business from a team-building perspective.

Benefits of employee wellness:

  • It attracts talented workers
  • It reduces absenteeism significantly
  • It enhances decision-making and productivity of employees
  • It improves employee morale
  • There is a significant reduction in turnover

Why employee wellness matters to your bottom line?

Because implementing powerful employee health and well-being strategies into your business can increase factors than impact revenue growth, such as employee productivity, general employee engagement and higher employee retention.  It’s fair to say that the health and happiness of your employees’ matter. Remember, providing value is what you do as a company. Allow your employees the same courtesy and watch them flourish as they find more meaning in their work.

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