Wellness Programs aim to improve and encourage better health and/or fitness for an individual. It usually includes health screenings, fitness programs, and preventative care. To be more specific, activities like weight-loss competitions, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation programs are usually offered. There are many types of a wellness program that exists, one example is the employee wellness program, also known as, corporate wellness program. This type of program is usually offered by employers to their employees as a benefit or perk for the position that an employee holds. Years ago, corporate wellness programs used to be only offered by big companies.
However, nowadays, even medium and small size companies offer wellness programs to their workers. Given the health crisis in the United States right now, more companies are taking preventative measures to reduce chronic diseases and other health issues, as well as, lower the economic burden. After years of conducting research, we have found an enormous amount of benefits corporate wellness programs can have on employees. Wellness programs have the power to change health behaviors, lower health risks, save on healthcare costs, make workers more productive, decrease workers calling out sick, increase employment and retention rates within the company, provide better mental health, and not to mention, there is a high demand for it.
1. It Affects Health Behaviors of Employees
People are capable of changing their behavior and/or pattern of living and working with the right motivation, social support, education, and skills. Wellness program helps people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy diet that results in changed behavior and makes them have a healthier and longer life. This is one of the biggest life-saving benefits of wellness programs. The American Heart Association has evaluated wellness programs thoroughly and demonstrated its ability to reduce cardiovascular risk; the number one cause of death in the United States. Studies have also demonstrated companies with wellness programs have employees with reduced mental-health-related issues, stress, smoking, etc.
2. It Lowers The Chances of Health Risks
Many employees are known to have high blood glucose, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. This results from an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. A clinical trial conducted a study observing and helping individuals to make healthier behavior choices. The results of the study shocked many people; over six weeks people’s health risk drastically reduced. Wellness program to motivate people to become active, eat a balanced diet and avoid nicotine products. A report published by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that for every 1% cholesterol dropped, there was a 2% to 3% drop in heart attacks. Another study looked at 200,000 participants of the wellness program and found that 5 in 7 had lowered health risk after one year of the program.
3. It Saves Healthcare Expenses
Extensive research has been conducted that shows wellness programs have saved millions of dollars towards healthcare. There are of course rules and regulations to save money on health care. To reduce costs, it depends on how effective the wellness program is. Companies that support behavioral change through wellness programs are more likely to see results in reducing healthcare costs. Multiple studies conducted at Harvard University found that studies that analyzed wellness programs and healthcare costs had an investment return of $3.27. In other words, for every dollar spent on the wellness program, the company saved $3.27 in healthcare costs.
4. It Brings Out More Productivity
Presenteeism is known as being physically present at work but not completing any actual work. This is very common and is seen from company to company and from employee to employee. Presenteeism (poor work ethic) costs twice and even three times more money than healthcare. There are several reasons why employees struggle to get their work done. These reasons include being tired, being distracted, not knowing how to use the equipment, constantly checking social media, and one of the important ones; poor health. A study conducted by the Journal Population Health Management concluded that 28% more smokers, compared to non-smokers, display presenteeism. Individuals with an unhealthy diet are 66% of the time to have a poor work ethic. Lack of physical activity leads to presenteeism 50% of the time.
5. It Decreases Absenteeism
It has been seen as a trend that companies who have successful wellness programs have reduced absenteeism. This reduced absenteeism occurs because of various reasons, such as healthy behavior, controlled stress, normal and healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and low blood glucose levels, as well as, healthy BMI (body mass index). Experts at Harvard University have found that for every dollar a company spends on wellness programs, they save $2.73 and reduce absenteeism as well. When employees have the motivation and good health they stop calling out of work without any reason. An employee who also has high moral values are also less likely to call in sick frequently.
6. Employee Recruitment and Retention Increases
Though there are no studies done on this to prove the wellness program has an impact on recruitment rates, there are many factors that play in this. Let’s look at it logically, when you apply for a job at a company, do you look at the benefits and perks that the company offers that come with the position you are applying for? And let’s say you are stuck between two jobs, you would compare the benefits each company provides and most likely go with the one that offers more money. If this is the case, why would recruitment rates not increase? However, it is not always that straightforward and simple. There’s a lot of factors that play into this, such as, the company’s ability to recruit employees, if the salary equals the number of hours the position requires, etc. A Virgin HealthMiles/Workforce did a survey that showed that 87% of its survey takers take health and wellness offers into consideration when choosing a company to work for.
7. Improves Mental Health Issues Like Depression
A wellness program that has specific healthcare like Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP) as part of the benefit, played a role in reducing depression and increasing nutrition. A researcher from Nutrition used a measuring scale called the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to compare and measure if and now wellness programs are related to improving depression. They have found that social support and interaction, as well as, positive reinforcement was also a backbone to reducing depression rates and can serve a benefit itself. It is often seen and known that jobs usually come with high levels of stress which can make a person spiral out and become someone they aren’t. But, when companies provide and peers create a supportive and positive environment, not only does it keep everyone happy, but it also has the potential to save lives.
8. Employees Want Wellness Programs
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that 59.4% of individuals want their employers to support and encourage good health. There is a high demand for companies to provide a well-established wellness program for its workers. As more companies start wellness programs, the demand for it keeps on increasing and will continue to increase. Wouldn’t you be happier knowing your basic needs to survive, such as healthcare, is covered by your employer? Won’t it bring you ease and motivate you to give your all to your job allowing you to reach your full potential? Studies have shown that it certainly can.