With health care costs rising and employees expecting “more” from their employers, it is natural that workplace health and wellness programs have seen a surge in popularity over the last decade. These programs can include health and fitness classes, ergonomics, nutritional courses, individual health assessments, bike rebates and sometimes even changes to the office snack machine. While the overall health benefits of these programs is hard to debate, not everyone is convinced that a health and wellness program is worth the sizable investment. Let’s show you why we think it is worth every penny.
The Rising Cost of Health Care
It is no secret that the average North American worker is becoming increasingly at risk of developing diabetes, obesity or other health and wellness related ailments throughout the course of their life. Our processed foods, cigarettes, refined sugars and “busy, busy, busy” mentality have caused us to forsake nutritional guides and common sense for convenience. By eating out and driving everywhere, we are making it harder for our bodies to work optimally.
This “unhealthy” attitude towards health and wellness not only effects every individual but it also effects every employer. An employee who isn’t healthy is also an employee who will struggle to be productive, and a sick employee can’t even work at all.
Why A Health And Wellness Program Works
Studies have begun to show that health and wellness programs not only have positive effects on the health of all employees who participate but that these benefits also effect the employers bottom-line. The savings can be substantial, with many companies saving substantially more than the programs cost. But how do you save money when you’re buying all your employees’ gym memberships, nutrition consultations and yoga classes? Well, healthier employers mean lower health care costs, which means lower premiums. Healthier employees also miss less work, and the decrease in absenteeism amongst companies with health and wellness programs is substantial.
Expensive? You’ve got to spend money to make money
A recent paper from Harvard dissected 22 different studies that gauged the effectiveness of employee health and wellness programs. While the different studies all showed varying degrees of financial benefit, only two of the 22 studies concluded that a health and wellness program doesn’t save employers money in the long run.
The studies also showed that the most cost-effective health and wellness programs were usually run by large companies with lots of employees and/or were programs that have been in place for multiple years.
The fact that large companies have more cost-effective programs is somewhat obvious; they buy their programs in greater bulk. But it also shows that as more and more employees realize that health and wellness is an encouraged aspect of their workplace culture they buy in and actively use the programs provided. Getting that buy-in takes time, that’s why health and wellness needs to be a part of the culture and supported fully from the top of your organization on down.
Investing in People
An effective health and wellness program will ultimately benefit the employees first, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that a well-run and supported program also has bottom-line benefits for the employers fronting the bill. As the program becomes embraced through a combination of organizational support and effective communication, employees will become healthier in the short-term and the long-term. That doesn’t even consider the benefits such a program has on employee recruitment, retention and overall job satisfaction.