How wellness programs can benefit both the employer and employees
Company wellness programs don’t just benefit employees. Employers also experience a wealth of benefits from healthier employees, including lower healthcare costs, better overall morale where employees feel valued and respected, reduced absenteeism, improvements in productivity, and reduced turnover. Businesses with secure wellness programs will also seem more attractive to potential employees, which can draw in better and more qualified candidates. Plus, there’s the overall benefit of not having sick workers.
There are lots of different types of wellness programs, and they should be tailored to your employees’ unique needs. If your company has a high ratio of smokers, for example, starting a smoking cessation program would be a good way to improve the overall health of your employees.
Other initiatives include on-site gyms, wellness education, health food initiatives, and more. It’s important to survey management and staff, and then gather data about your employees’ particular needs and interests before initiating a wellness program.
Once you have the research in place, you should choose appropriate health initiatives and create a wellness program. Companies should develop an operating plan to ensure practical and strategic application. This will also legitimize the wellness program and ensure that it can be carried out despite shifts in personnel. Your operating plan should include a vision statement, goals, objectives, a timeline, a budget, a communication plan, an implementation plan, and an evaluation plan.
It’s also important to receive wholehearted support from management through active participation. It’s a good idea to create a wellness team with members across several departments, too, who can help with company buy-in. Widespread participation is key to any successful wellness program. Participation can be encouraged through a supportive environment, rewards for healthy behavior, flexible work-times so that employees can find time to exercise, and more.
If you own a smaller company and don’t have the resources for a wide-scale wellness plan, consider low-cost alternatives. These include inviting in a healthcare provider to give presentations on best health practices, inquiring into free health risk assessments from your health insurance provider, and forming a wellness committee to tackle healthy lunches and other topics. On-site flu shots, healthy vending machine options, and breaks for physical activities are other cost effective solutions.
The Building a Healthier Polk Initiative, formed by Polk Vision and the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk), focuses on work health among many other health-related topics. The initiative hopes to increase the number of worksites that offer wellness programs by five percent, which in turn will aid in lowering the overall rate of obesity. The Initiative calls for a realistic approach that offers step-by-step solutions to maintaining a healthy weight. This is a good strategy toadopt in workplace wellness programs, as well. By keeping solutions uncomplicated and doable, employees feel like their goals are reachable.
Polk Wellness Professionals (PWP) is the group that works on the Healthier Polk push for more work wellness programs. This group designed and distributed a wellness survey as part of the data collection phase, and they have begun reaching out to businesses interested in implementing a wellness initiative. Both the PWP and the Healthier Polk Initiative have already helped many employers implement and fine-tune wellness programs throughout Polk County.
The PWP has also crafted a list of resources for corporate wellness programs, and they offer a wealth of health information online. This information is free, easily accessible and a great place to start when creating your worksite wellness program. I encourage you to start there and gather up the necessary information. You can visit the Polk Wellness Professionals site for these resources, as well as find sound advice and other information.
The bottom line is simple; work health is just as important as every other aspect of your businesses. Healthier employees mean a healthier company with better workplace morale, higher productivity, and less turnover. And that makes a wellness plan worth the investment.
story by SCHATZIE HAINES, GBA, PHR
About the author: Schatzie is a vice president and producer with Lanier Upshaw, Inc., a full service, independent insurance agency with a reputation for solving complex business problems. The organization is a community partner with Polk Vision, which began the Building a Healthier Polk Initiative. For more information on the Building a Healthier Polk initiative, visit www.polkvision.com/building-a-healthier-polk/. You can also find them on Twitter at @HealthierPolk and on Facebook.