Wellness In and Out of the Workplace

Categories: Your Company's Health

Wellness programs continue to gain traction in the workplace.

According to a recent study, 64 percent of employers indicated wellness initiatives are among the top three most effective tactics in controlling costs1. After leaving the office, it is important for employees to continue to practice the healthy habits.

As early as 2005, between 80 percent and 90 percent of all wellness program participants reported an increase in levels of exercise, improved diet and nutrition and better management of everything from their blood pressure and cholesterol levels to stress levels2. To ensure companies achieve these maximum results, several options businesses have decided to invest in include gym memberships, smoking cessation programs and counseling.

One of the most obvious investments for employees outside of work is providing an on-site gym for workers or a reduced rate or reimbursement for a gym membership. In fact, 35 percent of public and private firms offer a reduced rate or monetary incentive for employee gym memberships3. While incentivizing employees to take the stairs as opposed to the elevator may work in the short-term, allowing and encouraging employees to take charge of their own health has a greater long-term benefit. Exercising, besides the obvious health advantages, can also improve mood, boost energy and prevent injuries – all positive changes for the work environment. Coupled with better nutrition both during the workday and at home are great steps to make the most effective changes in corporate wellness.

Another positive change to improve employee health is implementing a smoking cessation program for your business. It is proven that smoking increases the risk for cancer, heart disease and emphysema. Quitting reduces these health risks for individuals, as well as the risk of affecting others with secondhand smoke. Additionally, smoking cessation potentially has significant cost savings from the business perspective.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, businesses pay at least $96 billion in direct medical cost connected to smoking-related illnesses. In addition, the CDC estimates another $96.8 billion is lost by businesses in lost productivity as a result of sickness and premature death4. There are multiple methods to implement a smoking cessation program in the workplace and a chosen program should be catered to the business’ employees based on evaluation by representatives from all levels of management.

Research also shows that employer-provided counseling, whether related to tobacco-free policies5, nutritional advice or general guidance, results in employees who were more likely to accomplish their goals. Providing counseling builds relationships that empower individuals to accomplish mental health, wellness and career goals, potentially leading to a more productive and inspired workforce.

As we have learned, wellness programs provide between a 3:1 and 5:1 return on investment on average6. Providing additional resources for employees, such as those mentioned above, can push business returns to the higher end of the scale. A simple incentive, such as a rebate for a gym membership, can improve time management by 72 percent, increase concentration by 27 percent and swell motivation to work by 41 percent7 – all results that are well worth the investment for a company’s bottom line.

Written by Leeann Garms
[1] http://www.businessgrouphealth.org/benefitstopics/topics/0049.cfm
[2] http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2010/08/23/lowcost-wellness-programs-can-have-high-business-v
[3] http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/28/1/46/F2.expansion.html
[4] http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/implementation/topics/tobacco-use.html
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20713440
[6] http://www.taggartinsurance.com/docs/ucsw-white-paper.pdf
[7] http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2008/6063.html