In the past, workplace wellness programs were referred to as corporate fitness programs and were touted as a perk in larger corporations. Today, companies of all sizes, across all industry lines, are realizing that there are many benefits of implementing wellness programs. In fact, they have become a staple benefit offered to employees at all levels. There’s no doubt that helping employees adopt healthy behaviors improves their health, which in turn ensures they’ll be productive and engaged. It also benefits their personal lives by helping them gain a better work-life balance and a more positive attitude in general.
There are also some other, not so obvious reasons organizations should consider implementing a wellness program for their workers. These types of benefits are a great way to attract attention, from new talent and customers, puts companies in a more competitive position and cultivates a positive corporate culture. There are financial benefits as well such as tax incentives, or credits, and lowered health care expenses. Plus, when people are feeling good, they’re more creative problem solvers who are willing to take on projects they otherwise would find overwhelming and stressful.
Attracting New Talent
The people who make up a company’s workforce are its most important asset, and attracting top talent is vital to ensure ongoing success. While high salaries and other financial benefits are certainly a draw, they are not always the top consideration for job seekers. In fact, many are more focused on a company’s culture and reputation. A company-sponsored wellness program is one of the benefits that is extremely attractive, especially for individuals just entering the workforce. In fact, more than 75% of job seekers say that benefits of this type are very important to them. They want to know that their health, safety, and well-being are a priority, and organizations that demonstrate that are more likely to draw them in.
Employee turnover is a fact of life for every organization, although the rate of turnover varies by industry. For example, the hospitality industry experiences turnover rates ranging between 25 and 30 percent, whereas finance hovers around 9 percent. Some leave because they have reached retirement age, decide to start a family, or move to another part of the country. Regardless of the reason, turnover is expensive, disruptive and demoralizing. It can also be a sign that workers feel as though the company doesn’t really care about them. Wellness programs prove that the company they work for holds them in high regard and that they’re willing to help them become healthier, happier, more successful individuals.
Let’s face it, companies are in business to make money, and the only way to do that is by out producing the competition. Simply demanding that employees work harder to meet the executive’s expectations, or face negative consequences, isn’t the best approach. Everyone wants to feel as though they are appreciated and important. When companies show their workers that they are invested in their health and well-being, they are more likely to reciprocate by increasing production. They’ll also be more willing to offer suggestions and help implement new ideas to improve the production capacity of the entire organization.
A Stronger Workforce
When everyone works together as a cohesive team, creativity spikes and goals are easier to attain. Often, companies are split into departments that are directly, or indirectly, competing. When this is the case, teamwork can be illusive and collaboration is unheard of. Incorporating group exercise programs, healthy cooking classes, team sports and other activities bring people together and encourages them to work more closely with one another. Not only will they encourage one another to do well in those activities, but they’ll also be more supportive of their co-workers, and more willing to contribute to projects that benefit the company.
Improved Mental Health
Although the main focus of many workplace wellness programs is on physical fitness and nutrition, they are not the only important aspects of health. Absenteeism rates, low productivity, and higher turnover are often directly linked to mental health issues. Addressing mental health concerns is as important as physical health and employers who offer their workers mental health benefits have a distinct advantage over those who do not. This can come in the form of referrals to mental health professionals, peer-to-peer support groups, or paid time off for a mental health day. These kinds of benefits help to lower burnout rates, decrease workplace injuries and help prevent aggressive behaviors and violence.
Better Work-Life Balance
It can be difficult to achieve a healthy balance between work, family, social activities and down time. For many workers, days are dominated by long commutes, heavy work loads, stressful deadlines and uncertainty about their future. Those factors all contribute to health issues, decreased production, high rates of absenteeism and dissatisfaction. By encouraging employees to eat healthier, get more exercise, eliminate unhealthy behaviors like smoking and alcohol use, employers can help them create a more balanced, happy life. In turn, they’ll reap the rewards of a healthier, more energetic workforce.
Lower Health Care Costs
According to a paper published by the Centers for Disease Control in 2016, inadequate physical activity increases the cost of health care for employees. Information from over 58,000 people was compared, and the results showed that adults who are sedentary spend an average of $1,313 more per year than their more active counterparts. The study also revealed that 11.1% of the total health care costs in the U.S. was directly attributed to inactivity. That’s roughly $333 billion that could be avoided if employees were more physically active. Companies that help their people adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and behaviors can help ease the burden and reduce health care costs.
Possible Tax Benefits
In some cases, your business can receive tax benefits by offering employees a wellness program. North Carolina and Indiana, for example, offer tax credits to businesses that implement an approved wellness program. Rather than acting as a deduction, however, these credits actually reduce the amount of taxes due, which is more beneficial in most cases. Employees can also benefit when the employer contributes toward the coverage, or when it is paid for on a pre-tax basis. In these cases, the program is considered to be an employer-provided benefit and does not result in taxes due for the employee.
High Return on Investment
Every business owner, manager, and executive considering an investment of any kind wants to know what kind of ROI they can expect. Investing in worker’s health and wellness is no exception. Those financially minded individuals may be surprised to learn that wellness programs are, in fact, a solid investment. According to multiple studies that compared wellness programs and employee health care costs, companies that invest in their employees’ health achieve a significant return on investment. In fact, the average return is 3.27. In other words, for every dollar that is spent, the organizations studied saved $3.27 in health care costs.
Increasingly, organizations are being held to a higher standard when it comes to the way that they treat their workforce. Those that demonstrate that they sincerely care about their employees are thought of as socially conscious, and in turn, are rewarded for their efforts. Consumers want to associate with brands that show compassion for everyone from the newest members of the team to the top executives. They have no problem shunning companies who appear to put profits over people, even if the product or service is of a higher quality or lower price. This is especially true for millennials who make up a large portion of the workforce. They have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and will not settle.
It’s a competitive world and investing in a well-rounded workplace wellness program gives a company an important advantage. That means focusing on things like physical fitness, and good nutrition. It also means encouraging workers to abandon bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use. To be comprehensive, however, it cannot simply look at the physical aspects of health. It’s also important to address mental health issues like excess stress, depression, and anxiety. When organizations take this kind of holistic approach to a wellness program, it affects every aspect, and individual positively.
Not only will a good workplace wellness program help attract the kind of talent a business needs, but it will also help them retain all of the wonderful employees that have helped build the business. Health care costs go down, and productivity goes up, teamwork improves and profits soar. There is a substantial return on investment, and it’s immediately measurable. More importantly, however, is how it will impact them, physically, mentally and emotionally. Healthy, happy employees carry those good feelings outside of the workplace, impacting the community at large. When that happens, the brand becomes the more desirable option when compared to those who do not, ensuring that they’ll remain at the forefront of customer’s minds long into the future.