Employee wellness programs, ranging from communicating health improvement information to encouraging wellness-promoting activities through incentives, can positively affect your bottom line. These programs can be broadly based or focus on specific issues, like smoking cessation, weight loss or diabetes management.
Workplace health and wellness programs tend to reduce injuries, healthcare utilization and costs, and absenteeism and presenteeism rates, while improving performance, productivity, morale and retention. Studies support a strong ROI for companies of all sizes, often several times more than the initial investment.
Cultivating a Culture of Health
Workplace health and wellness programs are most successful when an overall culture of wellness is created within the workplace. Success starts from the top, so management at all levels should be involved, whether that is periodically mentioning the importance of wellness or, ideally, leading by example and participating in the program. Also, company newsletters or similar communications should feature health and wellness topics, highlighting the corresponding service available. One size does not fit all, so be sure to evaluate your workers' interests and needs, and engage them accordingly.
Incentives Offer Encouragement
Consider offering incentives, like monetary compensation or reductions in health insurance premiums for reducing weight, quitting smoking, adopting other healthy habits or getting a personal health assessment. Note, however, that care should be taken with regard to what health data is kept by the company (rather than solely for employee use), as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently informally concluded that collecting information that could reveal diseases and disorders would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonrevealing data – such as whether an employee has a primary care physician – may be gathered for company use.
Incentives enhance the effectiveness of wellness programs by increasing participation and rewarding employees for meeting health goals and learning about health risks and management. A recent study by Health2Resources found that two-thirds of employers with health and wellness programs offer incentives, with the average incentive being $329. The study also noted that company size does not decrease the value of incentives, though small and midsize companies lag behind large companies in adopting the practice.
To learn more about workplace wellness programs or for help starting one, contact Saint Francis Medical Center's Services to Business at 573-331-5825.