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Wellness 1

Is Including a Wellness Program an Effective Business Strategy?

Wellness 3With health care costs increasing annually, employee wellness is a top priority for many employers looking to improve their bottom line.

Kandi Lannen, director of wellness at Priority Health, explains the financial impact of wellness programs and why healthy employees are a win-win for the workplace.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, studies on workplace wellness confirm that sick and unproductive employees have a significant impact on annual revenue. Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems can cost employers $1,685 per employee per year. Obesity and related chronic diseases cost employers up to $93 billion per year in health insurance claims.

Approximately 43 percent of companies estimated their average productivity loss stemming from employees’ concern over personal issues is between 11 and 30 percent.

Wellness 2A workplace wellness program is a great way to create a supportive environment and culture that can ultimately help employee’s jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, while cutting health care costs and potentially increasing retention of talent.

The Wellness Councils of America reported more than 80 percent of businesses with 50 or more employees have some form of a workplace wellness program. A Four Seasons Financial Education survey finds that employees are less likely to search for a new employer when wellness programs are offered.

The solution? Targeted, well-defined programs to engage employees in their health and, as a result, improve the company’s bottom line. These programs range from exercise and weight management classes to stress management and smoking cessation programs. The most effective wellness programs offer an individualized approach that helps each employee achieve their personal health goals. It’s important to offer sustainable wellness programming year round that supports a culture of health.

Wellness 1Lannen suggests the following ideas to jump start your employee wellness program:

  • Work it out – Regular physical exercise is a proven way to help control weight, improve mood, boost energy and combat health conditions and disease. Incentivize employees who participate in a walk, run or new physical activity. Or host internal fitness competitions such as an inner office stair climbing competition.
  • Drink more water – Drinking enough water can improve mood and concentration and aid in digestion. Encourage employees to set a goal to consume a specific amount of water each day. Perhaps make it easy by offering water at meetings and events, causing them to cut back on soda and other sugary drinks. Providing company water bottles for employees will also help make water measurement easy.
  • Nutrition is key – Overweight employees generally have increased absenteeism, lower productivity and higher health care costs. When the office is providing snacks, offer healthy food options like fruits and vegetables. Offering an on-site nutrition seminar is a great way for employers to show employees they are committed to the culture of wellness.
  • Smoke free workplace – Smoking is a leading cause of illness, absenteeism and smokers tend to have higher health and life insurance claims. By creating a smoke-free workplace or promoting tobacco-cessation classes for workers and their spouses, you can support employees as they reduce or quit smoking.

Workplace wellness is a winning strategy for all. A healthy workforce can improve a company’s revenue by reducing employee sick days and increasing productivity. Creating a healthy workplace as an employer ensures the work environment is supportive and encourages positive behavior choices.

Karen Dybis

Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen spent five years at The Detroit News as a business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project.

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