Keep Your Workers Healthy With a Wellness Program

Employers can help prevent unhealthy employee behaviors, which can lead to an increase in both workers compensation and healthcare costs, through the development of workplace wellness programs. Not only do these wellness programs improve employee morale and increase productivity, but they also reduce the frequency and severity of workers compensation claims, according to PMA Companies.

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 33% of adults today are obese, accounting for nearly 79 million people. The harmful health effects – like increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes – are not only having an impact on consumers’ well-being, but the financial health of employers. Obesity-attributable absenteeism in the workplace costs the nation more than $8.6 billion per year, according to a recent study published in the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Though there are a variety of ways in which Americans can address this problem, health experts agree that the most reliable method is by following a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly. Talk to anyone who’s ever tried to make this kind of lifestyle change, and they’ll likely tell you that saying it and doing it are very different things, as motivation and time constraints often get in the way.

But business owners may be able to serve as the bridge their workers need to get and stay healthy by implementing an employee wellness program.

According to a five-year observational study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, health care costs stemming from well-being issues can be mitigated over time by implementing an incentivized workplace wellness program.

“This study is the largest and longest continuous research effort on incentive-based health and wellness programs in the health care organization workplace to date,” said Michael Parkinson, M.D., the study’s co-author. “This study provides a much more accurate interpretation of incentive-based health management and wellness program effects on health behaviors, preventive care, medical quality, and costs than has been possible before.”

3 in 4 call workplace wellness programs ‘appropriate’
Workplace wellness programs are generally favored by employees as well. More than 75% of workers in a recent poll consider it appropriate for employers to offer wellness initiatives, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

One of the ways business owners may be able to encourage their workers to join a wellness program is through some type of financial incentive. New research reported by The Obesity Society discovered that employers who were offered financial incentives were 33 times more likely to participate in these programs.

“Tackling obesity in the workplace requires a holistic approach with a focus on supporting employees in their health journey,” said Eric Finkelstein, associate research professor in the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University. “Getting it right means workplaces that are encouraging healthy activities, employee cafeterias with healthy options, leaders who model healthy behavior and health plans that cover a wide range of treatments for obesity and overweight.”

Here are four tips on how to implement a successful workplace wellness program.

  1. Determine what health issues need to be addressed. Every business place is different when it comes to what employees struggle with. To select a wellness program that will benefit your workers, it’s a good idea to conduct a survey, asking participants where they struggle, be it with exercise, weight loss, eating right or not getting enough sleep.
  2. Establish a goal. Wellness program are not only meant to improve the health and well-being of your workforce, but also how your company operates. This makes it important to have an idea of what you want to achieve once the program has been implemented. The goal should be clearly defined and have a timeline.
  3. Engage workers by getting updates. The end result is ultimately what determines how effective a wellness program is, but the journey is more than half the battle. Make sure you keep tabs on your employees by asking them how they’re doing and how you might be able to help. This also helps keep your workers engaged, which is critical to a successful wellness initiative.
  4. Provide incentives. Some may be inspired to participate simply for the health benefits that result, but if you really want to get the most out of individuals’ efforts, reward achievements with incentives such as gift cards, bonus pay or vacation time.

Article From Selective Insurance