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4 Ways a Wellness Program
Benefits Employees and Organizations

It’s true that employee wellness programs often lead to lower healthcare costs, but there are several other less tangible benefits that can have a real impact on the business. This week, we delve into four key benefits that a well-being program can bring to your employees and the organization as a whole.

How a wellness program benefits employees and the organization.

1. Reduced healthcare costs.

Health assessments and biometric screenings give an employer insight into the current health of the population, as well as future health risks. This makes it easier to target the right programs—like disease management and health coaching—to the right people.

Over time, as employees engage with the programs, we typically see a reduction in healthcare claims related to chronic conditions, which leads to lower healthcare costs for the organization. A 2016 Global Healthy Workplace study reported that, of those respondents measuring the healthcare cost impact, 54% reported their programs were reducing trend by 2 to 5 percentage points per year.

2. Better recruitment and retention.

When the job market is competitive, a good benefits package is vital to recruiting key talent. This seems to be particularly important to younger employees. A 2016 Aflac survey found that health and wellness programs are major factors in millennials’ decision to take or remain in a job. And our own study shows that millennials and Gen Z expect more well-being offerings than other generations in the workforce. Beyond that, millennials actually use the well-being programs their employer offers more than other employees.

If a well-being program is actively supported by senior management, we see an even greater impact. And research backs this. A study by the American Psychological Association found that, in organizations where employees do not view leadership as committed to their well-being, only 17% would recommend the company as a good place to work.

When it comes to staying with an employer, the existence of a well-being program can have a positive effect. “Engagement in health and wellness programs translates to greater employee loyalty, which can significantly contribute to productivity and a stronger bottom line for employers,” says John Holcomb, Optum president of Population Health Solutions.1

3. Increased productivity.

When you’re not feeling well, it’s hard to give your all at work. So, if your employees are suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, back pain, or obesity, they’re probably less productive. Mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety, can also affect performance.

These conditions often result in high rates of absenteeism in an organization, or even presenteeism, when employees are physically at work, but not performing at an optimal level. According to the CDC, the net effect is that U.S. employers lose more than $225 billion each year in productivity due to employee health problems.2

A quality well-being program can help. When a well-being program focuses on holistic practices instead of just physical health, more programs are available to support an individual’s specific needs. For example, someone who has diabetes can get support through things like exercise classes and education, learning how to reduce their sugar intake, and speaking with a health coach to discuss areas where they may be struggling. At the same time, someone who’s experiencing high levels of stress and burnout may find more value in resilience programs, meditation apps, and company-provided group yoga sessions. And someone else who’s on their feet all day may prefer learning about the importance of sleep, participating in a wellness challenge to drink more water, and getting more information about nutritious, high-energy foods.

Said another way, an employee well-being program doesn’t just target resources to those suffering from chronic conditions. The best well-being programs include options that are meaningful to each individual, so people can choose the programs and modalities that support where they are in their own well-being journey. This, in turn, can improve their productivity both inside and outside of the workplace.

The plus side to having all these different offerings included in a well-being program is huge. People can commit to their own well-being and use the tools that are most helpful to their unique situation—but it can also inspire others in the workplace to make positive lifestyle choices, which could result in even higher productivity and job satisfaction.

4. Improved morale and employee engagement.

Organizations that care about the workforce’s health and well-being reap the benefits of happier, healthier employees. As executive coach Naz Beheshti writes, “Healthy and engaged employees, in concert with a strong workplace culture, are the secret sauce for business success.”3 Put simply, an employee well-being program sends a strong signal to the organization that you value employees as human beings, not just workers.

And studies indicate that employees want employers to be involved in multiple aspects of their health, including the parts that cross over into their personal lives. Our recent study found that 70% of employees surveyed feel employers should provide offerings for mental and emotional health, and 54% would like employers to offer caregiver support, among other kinds of non-traditional benefits.

Wellness challenges also help create a culture of health, bringing the organization together around a common goal. Challenges like our Invitational Team Steps Challenge have a positive impact on an organization’s culture and generate goodwill that translates into increased retention and engagement.

Getting an organization to be more physically active has other benefits, too: employees who regularly engage in physical activity are more likely to be in a good mood, get along better with co-workers, be more alert, manage stress better, and feel good about their company!

Companies that value and promote employee well-being send a clear signal to employees that they care about them—both inside and outside the workday. This commitment to health pays off for the business in the form of happier, healthier, more engaged, and loyal employees.

For more information about how your organization can benefit from an employee well-being program, contact us at connect@webmd.net.

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