The Benefits of Wellness Programs: How Improving Employee Wellness Helps Organizations Thrive
$322 billion is a huge figure. Unfortunately for companies, this is the amount of money lost each year from one avoidable reason: burnout.
According to a Gallup study, companies incur hefty losses as a result of burnout and not just monetary losses. High turnover and diminished productivity are directly associated with decreased happiness.
Keeping companies thriving is already a great motivator to keep employees feeling good about themselves, their work, and about life in general. However, the benefits of wellness programs are more than just dodging burnout and increasing profits.
But to harness those benefits, you need a comprehensive employee wellness plan.
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What are employee wellness programs?
Numerous studies show that productivity dips and rises with the overall wellbeing of employees. Burnout, anxiety, metabolic issues, and social shortcomings can incur huge costs annually.
The good news is that the opposite is also true. Increasing the various types of wellness boosts employee performance and productivity in a big way. Most companies focus on health, emotional wellness, work-life balance, financial wellness, and team building to promote workplace wellness.
Corporate culture, strategy, and goals often drive the specific wellness programs they offer. Additionally, companies often align their programs to appeal to the best talent in the market. Some examples include the following.
- Hypertension screening and control
- Daily walking program
- Mental health support
- Yoga classes
- Healthy snacks
- Stress management
- Overall biometric screening
- Team building programs
10 benefits of employee wellness programs
People drive businesses forward so ensuring that the people in your organization are taken care of should be a company priority. Employee wellness programs, at their best, have a cascading positive effect on the entirety of the employee experience.
Wellness programs aren’t beneficial for employees only. As a matter of fact, they also benefit managers, teams, and organizations as a whole.
Boosting morale, positivity, and enthusiasm
Employee wellness programs instantly spark a mood of positivity in the workplace. Most of us experienced the lightness and joy that comes with stress-free surroundings.
The simplest company-wide wellness programs make employees feel appreciated and secure. Going the extra mile by providing health screening, entertainment, celebrating milestones, and team-building activities are guaranteed to boost workplace positivity.
Increasing employee engagement
Engagement is a wonderful outcome that requires a number of conditions to be fulfilled.
Engaged employees are often the ones who find fulfillment in the work they do or the environment they are in. Additionally, they find their pay rewarding, their career path clear, and their tasks interesting.
To attract and keep the best candidates, you need to provide a wellness program that can help maintain employee health and wellbeing.
On top of that, they should feel challenged a little every day. It’s worth noting that there’s a fine balance here. If a task seems too simple, it would be boring and employees soon feel rusty. On the other hand, extra-difficult tasks could be real stressors.
Reducing stress and anxiety
More than 66% of employees experience anxiety in some form on a daily basis. Life often throws a curveball, and people are prone to worrying about a ton of stuff every minute of every day. This is the same for interns as it is for CEOs.
There are several ways to reduce that debilitating sense of anxiety among your workforce. This ranges from programs designed to de-stress and employee retreats to drafting clear paths for career advancement.
Enhancing problem-solving skills
The brain is far more capable of solving complex problems when a person is physically and emotionally sound. Many people know this by instinct, but there’s some strong science that backs up this fact.
One of the noteworthy conclusions from various studies shows the direct link between cognitive ability, creativity, and aerobic exercise. Finding ways to incorporate movement wherever possible within the workday, the more bright ideas you’re likely to hear from your employees.
Improving corporate culture and public image
Companies that adopt a wellness culture often receive better reviews from their employees. This soon spreads through word of mouth, business surveys, magazine articles, and social media posts.
Corporations with a positive public image often attract the best talent and customer base. Additionally, the turnover in both categories is often minimal.
Reducing sick days and healthcare costs
Harvard found that for every dollar spent on employee wellness, absenteeism drops $2.73 and medical costs fall $3.27, a 6-to-1 return on investment. Regular screening of biometrics and stress reduction efforts often have a direct effect on absenteeism. Naturally, healthcare costs become lower as well.
Sick days increase with stress, disengagement, burnout, and ignoring physical activity. There are many programs that focus on these areas, and the direct outcome is a boost in attendance and productivity.
Controlling chronic diseases
Some health issues like diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and hypertension are hard to uncover. They don’t present clear symptoms, and that’s why screening is useful.
Early treatment often costs much less than waiting too long for a situation to become worse. As an example, complications in cardiovascular issues are more difficult and more expensive to treat. And they also take longer recovery times.
Attracting and retaining top talent
Corporations with highly-publicized wellness programs rank as the best places for work. And that’s an attractive quality for the best and most experienced job candidates.
Employee retention among top performers is also another perk of implementing wellness programs. Happy employees rarely leave their companies.
Lowering employee turnover
Employee turnover is highest in companies with low trust, engagement, and empathy. Interestingly, money doesn’t matter too much in that regard.
In fact, 90% of employees are willing to do work for less pay, if they feel it’s meaningful. And more than 70% of employees stay in places where they can trust their coworkers and managers. Focusing on the employee experience is vital to your company’s success. According to Workhuman® research, employees at organizations who scored highest for experience were:
- Offered nearly 2x the discretionary effort
- Report 23% higher performance levels
- 52% less likely to leave
It can be simple things like offering healthy snacks at the office. A stunning study showed that 67% of employees would be “very happy” as soon as a healthy food snack bar is added to their workplace.
But, more than just healthy snacks, it’s about building a culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, who believe their leaders trust them, and who are encouraged to take time and space to care for their physical and mental health.
Strengthening psychological safety and social bonds
A wellness program can help strengthen human-to-human bonding by its very nature. Employees get to know their coworkers in more meaningful ways and, over time, they build amazing relationships.
When you implement a wellness program that encourages people to care for each other it binds people together, builds a community, improves employee morale, and increases psychological safety.
This contributes directly to better engagement, productivity, and creativity.
What makes a wellness program effective?
Wellness programs often have good outcomes with varying degrees. To get the most out of your wellness program, here are a few workplace wellness tips to consider.
- Employee wellness programs should be a part of the overall corporate strategy. All development programs should be in tune with the wellness programs.
- Messaging and communication are key to the success of any endeavor. Even the best intentions need clear articulation to the broader company for effective execution. Try to summarize your goals into digestible statements. Make it clear what the wellness benefits are and how taking part in wellness activities can help employees.
- Spread the word across all levels. Like any other formulated strategy, proper broadcasting of goals from the C-suite to the front lines guarantees success. Middle managers are especially responsible for that.
- Quick reminder: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Work on creating and spreading a culture of care, trust, and understanding. Employees will receive wellness programs with open arms only if they feel that the company is sincere.
- Align your wellness programs with two things: the real needs of your team, and their core values. That is, naturally, alongside your corporate goals.
- Productivity reports speak louder than progress reports. Keep your eye on the results. Measure the right KPIs. And make changes to your strategy and wellness programs accordingly.
- Use new tools to measure workplace wellness statistics and intangibles like mood, trust, and happiness. There are some impressive tools that can make this a breeze.
- Finally, celebrate milestones and small wins. Success is a marathon, not a race. This will keep you and your employees committed to wellness goals and further development.
Ultimately, you need to come out of employee wellness programs with 4 results.
- Engaged, supported employees
- Higher productivity
- Lower turnover
- Increased creativity
There are many resources on how to promote wellness in the workplace. The consensus is to explain the importance of health and wellness to all employees. Then incentivize participation.
It’s worth noting here that you’ll get the best results if the wellness programs you implement align with the employees’ needs and aspirations.
Beth Gerstein, CEO of Brilliant Earth, a global retailer of jewelry, encourages physical fitness, both through regularly scheduled stretch breaks as well as “Fitness Fridays,” where employees do in-home workouts together as a team over Zoom. SAP has a program focused on mindfulness strategies for employees and leaders as they go about their day.
Some examples of tools that can be leveraged during the workday include:
- Pausing to stretch
- Meditation breaks
- Yoga classes
- 15-minute breaks for guided breathing
People often say that “they want to be happy” or “they want to feel good”. Further probing often shows that there are five main areas that contribute to wellness. In general, employees seek the following:
- Better work-life balance
- Assistance in achieving career goals
- Maintaining health and fitness
- A positive work environment
- Warm relationships with colleagues
At this point, it should be clear that there are numerous benefits of wellness programs.
Big companies like Google, Nike, Adidas, and LinkedIn provide exemplary wellness programs and, not coincidentally, they often find themselves among the top places to work.
Find out how with the solutions from Workhuman Cloud®.
Employee Wellbeing Tips and Guides