written by: N Nayab•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/1/2010
Employee wellness programs aim at improving the health of the employees through change of behavior. The benefits of employee wellness programs include improvement of employee health, increased productivity, low turnover, reduction of employer’s healthcare, disability costs, and more.
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Employee wellness programs consist of various educational, environmental, and organizational activities. The most common types include medical check ups, health risk assessments, health education and coaching, behavior modification programs, employment assistance programs, provision of fitness programs and facilities, and more.
The benefits of employee wellness programs primarily translate to better employee health, enabling them to lead a better quality of life. For instance, medical screenings help diagnose problems and allow nipping diseases and disorders in the bud, fitness and exercise programs help preempt diseases, health education raises awareness on how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, and behavior modification programs help curtail tobacco use or attain weight control.
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2. Lesser Health Care Costs
Many employers initiate employee wellness programs to reduce the impact of enormous increases in health insurance premiums and disability payouts. Employees participating in wellness programs are less likely to be prone to disease, illness, injuries, and accidents, and this lowers insurance premiums.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease estimate companies with comprehensive workplace wellness programs and appropriate health plans in place yields $3 to $6 for each dollar invested over a three to five year period, reducing the likelihood of employee heart attacks and strokes at the same time.
A study of a wellness program at Providence General Medical Center reports introduction of wellness programs leading to reduction of per-capita workers' compensation costs by 83 percent and other savings from reduced sick leave and health care costs.
Another study at Prudential Insurance reports 32 percent lower disability-per-capita costs and 46 percent lower annual medical costs after implementing employee wellness programs.
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3. Reduction of Workplace Injuries and Work Related Diseases
The benefits of employee wellness programs permeate to the workplace. Participation in wellness programs make the employees better aware of the possible dangers from life habits and prompt them to lead an active and energetic lifestyle. Health risk assessments analyze the risk factors on the work floor, prompting remedial measures. Health classes instruct on the best work methods. Such factors help reduce incidents of workplace injuries and work related diseases in a big way.
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4. Increased Productivity
Employee wellness prompts employees to shun sedentary lifestyle and be prompt, energetic, and proactive. This has a positive effect in the workplace with such an active lifestyle prompting employees to focus on tasks on hand and do things right at the correct time, increasing productivity. Many studies show a correlation between employees who seek out corporate wellness programs and the most productive workers.
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5. Reduced Absenteeism
Studies link reduced absenteeism and implementation of employee wellness measures. Employee wellness initiatives provide employees with good health, energy, mental focus, work life balance, clear priorities, and a habit of promptness. Such behavioral changes result in reduced absenteeism and sick leaves.
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6. Reduced Employee Turnover
Wellness programs send the message across to the employees of a caring organization, and that the organization is interested in them as total persons. This increases employee commitment. Most people think twice before changing jobs from such organizations, thereby reducing employee turnover and saving the company recruitment and training costs. Even without such increased commitment, wellness programs help identify the most efficient and productive employees.
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7. Better Employee Morale
One of the indirect benefits of employee wellness programs is raising employee morale. The wellness program communicates the fact that the company cares for the employees even during times of reduced job-security and decreasing tenure of employees in any one company. This creates goodwill, raising employee morale, making them more responsible and integrated to the company’s activity.
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8. Better Teamwork
One indirect benefit of employee wellness programs is better bonding on employees and better teamwork. The wellness programs provide the employees with an opportunity to socialize in a quasi-informal setting, and to share views and concerns. People with the same health issues such as obesity, for instance, might group and develop a health plan together. Such informal relationships have a spill off into the work environment, and help in better bonding and teamwork.
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9. Better Corporate Image
Implementation of employee wellness programs gives the company an image of a caring and responsible organization. This provides many intangible benefits such as better acceptance of company products by customers, good publicity in the media, ability to attract skilled talent during recruitment, and the like.
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10. Possible Tax Breaks
The Healthful Workforce Act, presently a U S Senate Bill proposes to give businesses tax credits of up to $200 per employee for the first 200 employees and up to $100 per employee thereafter, per annum for ten years enrolled in a newly created wellness program, to offset the costs of the wellness program.
The interest in employee wellness programs have shot up in recent times, but most companies and employees have not yet realized much of its scope and potential.