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In the wake of COVID-19, The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and the various other factors contributing to high employee stress levels and disengagement for employees, companies are finding that wellness programs have far-reaching benefits.
In a new research report from Workhuman and Gallup, employee wellness had a hand in reduced levels of burnout, better social wellbeing, higher levels of belonging, and an increased feeling of thriving.
Below are some of the most important workplace wellness statistics from this report and other research to help you in 2023.
Employee wellbeing is the overall measure of an employee’s mental and physical health stemming from factors in and out of the office.
We don’t have time to list out all of those factors, but you can help narrow them down by talking to your employees and understanding what unique stressors they are feeling.
This will help you craft a tailor-made workplace wellness program for your organization.
Workplace wellness programs are essentially employee wellness programs at scale.
They consist of health and wellness initiatives promoting physical and mental health and end up creating more psychologically safe and healthier work environments.
Such environments help empower employees to bring their full selves to work while knocking down stress levels.
Central to the workplace wellness program is recognition. In our Gallup report, recognition was the consistent thread tying together workplace relationships, belonging, and retention.
Gratitude is the heart of any employee wellness program, as many of the following employee wellness statistics will highlight.
Employee wellness programs have been a corporate practice for over a century. In their most recognizable form, you can trace employee wellness programs back to 1979 when Johnson & Johnson introduced their Live for Life program.
This initiative aimed to give employees tools and resources to help with wellness areas like stress management and nutrition.
With time, the emphasis on wellness has grown. A U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report found that 80% of US businesses with more than 50 employees offered corporate wellness programs.
Employee wellness programs have a demonstrable impact on physical health and the health care costs employees incur.
Programs often offer disease management support, health screenings, and ways to improve employee health behaviors like improving fitness and quitting smoking.
Like their predecessors, most modern wellness programs also offer initiatives aimed at stress and burnout.
While it’s progress, the COVID-19 pandemic kickstarted a mass scrutinization of the breadth of those wellness programs. In the US, where nearly half of the population had a chronic health condition before COVID, long term health sprung to the public consciousness.
Now it is expected that wellness programs extend, where possible, remote working to help people (especially those immunocompromised) avoid contracting a still relatively unknown virus.
Discussions have also started about how companies can further the reach of wellness programs by investing in community health.
The benefits of wellness programs are present throughout the whole of the employee experience. It starts at recruitment. Nearly 9 in 10 employees consider the benefits package when evaluating an employer.
More than half of Gen Zers and millennials consider wellness programs important or extremely important when looking for a job.
Wellness programs have the power to retain talent, too. Sixty-seven percent of employees who work for organizations with wellness programs like their jobs more, and they are just as likely to recommend the company to others.
On a daily basis, health and wellness programs are designed to alleviate stress and burnout, as well as improve the physical health and social wellbeing felt by employees.
For the employer, wellness programs can yield a happy, healthy workforce that sees decreased absenteeism, improved retention, and a thriving company culture.
Wellness programs have been studied and analyzed for years.
The aforementioned Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services report was produced by the RAND Corporation to understand the composition of corporate health and wellness programs, national patterns of uptake, and the impact of wellness programs on health care costs among other findings.
The RAND corporation has also explored the incentives that are often used to increase participation in wellness programs.
Spoiler alert, incentives help, but the long term impact of the wellness program comes down to the quality of that wellness program.
Even the best wellness program out there doesn’t guarantee participation. Employers need to be proactive about participation.
A 2021 report from Gartner found that lowering the barriers of entry for employees is key to its success.
Employees should be able to clearly understand the benefits. Employers should actively work to reduce stigma or apathy around wellness programs as well as the time and energy needed to participate.
Read "Amplifying Wellbeing at Work and Beyond Through the Power of Recognition" for more workplace wellness statistics and in-depth reporting on links between wellbeing and critical business outcomes.
Organizational leaders should be well-aware of the various impacts employee wellness has on the overall organization. It influences productivity, quality of work, connection, collaboration, a company’s financial success, and the entirety of the employee experience.
It’s prudent for any leader to be proactive about developing a workplace wellness strategy.
Wellness programs can include everything from flex work, parental support, fitness accommodations, and other health and wellness initiatives that can ultimately bring down healthcare costs and establish positive health behaviors.
Leaders set the tone for recognition when they exemplify it themselves. Modeling recognition gives employees permission to do the same — which supports the end goal: a culture of recognition where all employees serve as important sources of recognition.
When employees feel supported from the very top and receive recognition at least a few times a month from managers, leaders, and/or peers are up to 4x as likely to strongly agree that they belong at their organization.
The following employee wellness statistics frame the impact of burnout and highlight how employee wellness programs alleviate that negative impact and even promote positive outcomes like higher quality work.
Beyond the macro trends and larger budget impacts, the feeling of burnout permeates into the micro on a daily basis.
The everyday effect of workplace wellness programs provides countless opportunities to redirect the sentiment and overall culture of the people in your workplace.
Here are just some of the ways wellness wins over burnout.
Workplace wellness programs can also help create a stronger feeling of belonging in the company. Such a feeling has a tremendous effect on the overall sense of psychological safety experienced by employees.
Here’s how wellness programs infused with recognition boost the feeling of belonging in the workplace according to the research.
Organizations that support employees and care for their mental and physical health are less likely to see those employees leave.
That collective tenure creates more opportunities for employees to develop deeper relationships at work to the benefit of collaboration, morale, and retention.
Let’s see specifically how workplace wellness programs can improve interpersonal dynamics.
Most companies offer a workplace wellness program of some kind. A 2019 Employer Health Benefit Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 84% of companies with 200+ workers offered one.
One of the simplest but most crucial metrics for a workplace wellness program is participation. It’s a mark of how well you have communicated the wellness program and how easy you have made it to participate in the first place.
With ample evidence of a wellness program’s ability to lower stress and improve engagement, the higher the participation, the more likely you will see other areas like collaboration improve as well.
According to a RAND study sponsored by the US Department of Labor, employee participation ranges from 20% - 40% depending on the size and scope of the wellness programs.
If participation is lower at your organization, look at the wellness program itself and evaluate its efficacy. Trying to increase participation with just financial incentives won’t do it.
Sixty-one percent of large employers reported financial incentives to be “not effective at all” or “somewhat effective.”
An employee wellness program centered on recognition removes some of the biggest barriers to productivity.
It reduces stress and burnout, it creates a sense of belonging in the organization, and it shows employees their wellbeing is a priority.
Combined, that creates stronger bonds and collaboration and higher quality work. Done with intention, productivity can boon in an effective employee wellness program.
People power a company’s success. Thus, it becomes paramount for the company to make sure people can be at their absolute best.
That means reducing stress and burnout where possible. That means promoting physical and mental health. That means creating a first-class workplace wellness program.
About the author
Mike is a senior content marketing specialist at Workhuman where he writes about the next era of the workplace. Outside the workplace, he’s an avid gardener, a frequent biker, a steadily improving chef, and a fantasy sports fanatic.
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