Wellness Programs are excellent for waistlines and your organization’s bottom line
In today’s hectic world, most of us are spending more time at work, and have increasingly less time to look after our health. For a long time, businesses have understood the benefits associated with keeping workers well – increased productivity from reduced absenteeism and reduced disability claims.
For these reasons, coupled with the fact that many businesses realized double-digit health care costs last year, businesses should consider wellness programs as a way to keep workers healthful.
But just how important are wellness programs to employees? How often are they willing to participate in wellness programs designed to positively impact their health? Who do staff members trust to provide them with important information about their health?
Answers to these questions and more were lately garnered from a research study commissioned by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc. (AAOHN).
The AAOHN survey questioned 500 workers nationwide about their perceptions of wellness programs. More than three-quarters of all participants indicated wellness programs are a good way to improve their overall health, and nearly 60% consider these offerings an incentive to remain with their current business.
Worker retention and turnover impact the bottom line, so building wellness programs into the work site culture is a valuable way to help retain talented staff members and to enhancing personal health and workplace productivity.
Wellness Programs Most Wanted
Employees appear to have their own agenda when it comes to their health. With new pressures resulting from an unstable economy, national security threats and work/balance issues, it’s not surprising that 85 percent of survey respondents cited stress management as a priority topic for corporate wellness programs.
In addition to stress, other preferred topic areas for wellness programs include health screening programs (84 percent), exercise/physical fitness programs (84 percent), health insurance education (81 percent) and disease management (DM) workshops (80 percent).
In addition to lifestyle and personal health issues, those asked expressed concern about work-related health issues, including strains and injuries resulting from lifting or task-oriented muscle repetition, exposure to harmful substances, personal injury, vision changes due to computer work and workplace violence.
Starting a Wellness Program
With such a broad range of health concerns, a key goal for employers is locating a way to proactively address the health needs of the biggest number of staff members, and effectively change unhealthful behaviors, promote wellness and ward off illness and illness.
Printed health and wellness materials such as wellness posters, wellness newsletters or wellness handouts present an easy solution. But it’s important to remember that different people require different formats for learning.
A good rule of thumb – provide information in a selection of learning formats like wellness videos, pamphlets, health-related quizzes or assessments, bulletin / display boards, brown bag lunch presentations and reimbursement or wellness incentive programs.
This assumes you have overcome the first hurdle – getting individuals to participate in wellness programs. While survey respondents indicated wellness programs are important, just six out of 10 (60 percent) reported that they participated in the wellness programs at their businesses. The other 40% cited lack of interest and lack of time as deterrents.
This points to the need for a extensive, structured wellness program using a creative approach, with an incentive for participation and effective wellness program marketing and advertising.
By investing in organized wellness programs – headed by a wellness consultant or on-site nurse – companies can give employees the access to the health information they want, and increase participation and generate interest at the same time.
The result of effective wellness programs? Workers become smarter consumers of healthcare who feel empowered to take charge of their personal health. And healthier workers make for a healthier bottom line.