How important are Wellness Programs really?
By: Joshua Williams
If you’re anything like me, New Years is a time to stay up late (or try to anyway), celebrate with loved ones and begin thinking about those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably, mine sound something like “becoming a healthier and ‘better’ person.” And after a shiny, new gym membership, equally new workout clothes and a two-week sprint on the treadmill, I can usually be found on the couch binge watching Netflix. Fast forward to next New Years—rinse and repeat.
For many, the start of a New Year is a chance for a redo. An opportunity to improve and to pave the way for a better life one day at a time. This isn’t too different from organizations that utilize the New Year for planning, improvement and growth in their business. And, similar to individuals’ resolutions, this is an excellent time to seriously consider the health and well-being of your employees.
Do employers really use Health and Wellness Programs?
It’s undeniable that wellness programs are becoming a priority for employers. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 93% of employees ranked healthcare/medical benefits as somewhat or very important to their job satisfaction and 70% felt wellness programs contributed to satisfaction. In response, 80% of HR professionals stated their employer provided health/wellness resources. The popularity of Health and Wellness programs is undeniable. But, just because they’re popular though, do they actually work?
Do Health and Wellness programs actually help?
With emphasis placed on the ‘bottom line,’ it can be difficult to underline the importance of a workforce’s wellness. Further complications arise with the difficulty of quantifying items like employee’s happiness and health. Research has been conducted though and, in short, health and wellness programs are nothing short of a blessing for companies for the following reasons:
- Reduced healthcare costs: According to SHRM, a separate study reveals that 77% of survey participants claimed wellness initiatives were somewhat or very effective in reducing healthcare costs. When employees are healthy, they go to the doctor less and reduce the strain on employer provided healthcare.
- Lower employee absenteeism: It’s hard to be productive when nobody’s there to do the work. Employees that are healthier (in terms of physical, mental and financial well-being) use less PTO time. According to the Harvard Business Review, one company reduced lost workdays by 80% after six years of improving their health and wellness program.
- More productive employees: Employees that aren’t concerned with health problems, financial hurdles or the like tend to be more focused and present at work drastically increasing productivity.
- Talent attraction and recruitment: With increased competition, a low unemployment rate, and a limited labor market, improving employer brand is vital. According to SHRM, 84% of HR professionals use healthcare benefits as a recruiting tool and two-thirds believe that its importance will increase in the next 2-3 years.
Where can I go to learn more?
Fortunately, there are tons of resources available should you want to investigate further. SHRM’s website is a fantastic starting place that provides research on the importance of Health and Wellness and how to implement your own programs— all of which can arm you when making the business case to the C-suite.
If you are looking for something more engaging and personal though, the Louisville chapter of SHRM will feature a keynote on January 9th covering this very topic. The session is approved for 1-hour of general HRCI and SHRM-CP/SCP credit. For more information about the meeting and registration, please visit LSHRM’s website here.