Employee Wellness Programs: Improving Health and Productivity in the Workplace

31 Aug


If your company doesn’t offer an employee wellness program, perhaps it’s time you should. And if you already provide one, consider enhancing your offering. Because research indicates that wellness initiatives truly improve workplace well-being—while boosting business performance.

Need more specifics? Consider the many benefits of employee wellness programs for both workers and employers.

Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs for Workers

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), corporate wellness programs encourage employees to improve their physical and mental health, often by helping them change harmful behaviors. For example, weight loss programs, smoking cessation classes, and shared stress management techniques are popular wellness initiatives.  

When employers build a culture of wellness, they demonstrate that they care about their people’s greater well-being. This improves employee morale and loyalty, while creating a nurturing workplace environment.  

Wellness Initiatives Are Effective Recruiting Tools  

While most large employers offer employee wellness programs, only 58% of smaller companies do. So, when you add a corporate wellness program to your benefits package, you may give your business a solid hiring edge.  

In the post-pandemic universe, workers appreciate their employee benefits to a greater degree, especially health insurance and mental health support. Today, jobseekers are evaluating their prospective employers’ benefits packages with a more discerning eye—and those that emphasize workplace well-being earn a closer look. 

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Happier Employees = More Productive Employees

Fact: when we don’t feel well, we’re not as productive. Giving employees access to tools that improve their physical and mental well-being results in happier, more energetic workers—which in turn boosts productivity.

For example, genuinely happy service reps undoubtedly provide better customer experiences than those who are rundown and/or stressed-out. Similarly, employees who are relaxed and optimistic are better positioned to think creatively and work collaboratively than those who are uncomfortable and/or depressed.   

Employee Wellness Programs Reduce Turnover

Not only can employee wellness programs enhance recruiting, they also improve retention. According to one Mercer survey, employers who nurture a culture of health enjoy 11% lower turnover than others. Furthermore, the more well-being initiatives their programs offer, the higher retention is—the study found a direct correlation. 

In addition, corporate wellness programs reduce absenteeism by 14-19%, since healthier, happier employees don’t take as many sick days.  

A Corporate Wellness Program May Save You Money

If that’s not enough, employee wellness programs often cut employers’ costs in several significant ways.

According to a CDC review of 56 published studies, employee health and wellness programs can lead to a 25% savings on absenteeism, health insurance premiums, workers’ compensation, and disability management claims costs.

How does that break down? Well, one Kaiser Permanente study found that every employee who smokes costs their employer an additional $5,800 per year, while diabetic employees generate an additional $4,413 in annual expenses.

In short, helping employees deal with common health challenges benefits both individual employees and the bottom line. 

How to Build (or Expand) Your Employee Wellness Program

A well-rounded employee wellness program encompasses physical health, mental/emotional health and even financial wellness initiatives, since financial worries are powerful stressors for many U.S. workers.

Popular wellness benefits often include:

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs), which provides access to professional counselors
  • Onsite health screenings and flu shots
  • Access to fitness, smoking cessation, and weight loss programs 
  • Gym membership discounts to encourage physical activity
  • Classes teaching meditation, yoga, and/or stress management techniques
  • Digital wellness programs for remote and hybrid workers
  • Financial wellness initiatives, including educational programs and access to advisors

Of course, even the best employee wellness programs are moot if your employees don’t use them. In order to encourage utilization, you might:

  • Build awareness of your program and its many aspects via engaging, ongoing employee communications
  • Offer rewards or financial incentives to those who complete specific programs
  • Make it easier and more inviting to participate, by hosting short, entertaining workshops and webinars on company time

At the end of the day, prioritizing employee wellness will demonstrate your commitment to your people while offering practical advantages to your business. To discuss the benefits of employee wellness programs—or to get help implementing one—connect with a VensureHR rep.

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