Does your employer offer a wellness program? These plans have surged in popularity the past 20 years. Their basic premise is this: happy, healthy employees make better, more productive employees. Upgrade the quality of life for workers, and everyone benefits at the end of the day.
Research has shown that, for the most part, wellness programs actually do work. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), numerous benefits extend to employers, including:
- Better productivity
- Less personnel turnover
- Positive employee morale
- Less chance of fines, penalties and litigation
- Overall cost savings, even with plan implementation costs figured in
Plus, WHO also concluded that workers also reap the rewards of wellness programs, specifically in the form of:
- Superior health
- Reduced sick time and days called off due to illness
- Life-enhancing health knowledge and skills (utilized primarily outside the workplace)
- High levels of job satisfaction
- Increased self-esteem
How Wellness Programs Work
Employers implement wellness perks through a variety of incentives and channels. For example, here are some of the most common methods for getting a workplace wellness program started:
- Gym membership incentives. Many employers offer health insurance premium deductions for anyone who joins a local gym, health club or exercise facility.
- No-smoking rewards. For employees who quit smoking or don’t smoke, there are exclusive cost-savings plans and other incentives that promote healthy lifestyle practices.
- Medical screening. Since early detection is critical to long-term health, there are specific screenings (cancer, diabetes, etc.) that workers can participate in.
- Healthy snack services. Nutrition also plays a key role in overall health, so some companies establish food delivery programs (lunches, snacks, low calorie beverages, etc.) for workers willing to participate.
- Weight loss plans. A wasteful expense budget isn’t the only thing employers are looking to slim down. Workers’ waistlines are also on the radar, since reduced body weight typically reduces the chance of disease and other chronic conditions. A medical weight loss program, like other wellness program offerings, benefits the company and workers.
The Rise of Workplace Wellness Programs
Both employers and employees have grasped the importance of staying healthy. Better overall awareness has made it easier to implement workplace wellness programs. An important study from RAND, a research organization, stated that the number of working adults with a chronic disease or other serious condition has grown 25% in the past 10 years, and that statistic (among many others) has made wellness programs a more desirable component of employee perks and benefit packages. Whether from first-hand experience or witnessing co-workers suffer from ill health, it’s clear that employer-sponsored health initiatives are here to stay.
Yet even with an overall increase in wellness programs, many companies do not offer this type of employee resource. What can you do to promote better health and fitness in the workplace, even in the absence of wellness programs?
How to Foster a Healthier Workplace
Even if your company already has a wellness program and you’re an active participant, try the following things to promote an even better environment.
- Say so long to sitting. Standing cubicles are becoming a permanent part of the office cubicle landscape, and for good reason. Many health experts regard prolonged sitting as “the new smoking.” Talk to your facilities manager about implementing optional standing cubicles – you’ll be surprised how much more refreshed and invigorated you feel!
- Try monthly massages. Every workplace has its share of stress. In order to combat fatigue, poor posture (see #1 above) and other deleterious effects of a stressful work environment, schedule a massage therapist to visit the office on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Just one 15-minute session can have an immediate impact on health and overall happiness.
- Snack smart. No matter your line of work, the hunger bug’s always around. But instead of potato chips, candy bars and other junk food, try implementing a healthy snack program (if your employer offers a wellness program, this may already be an option). Create a team to research ideas (Pinterest is a great option) and schedule regular “healthy snack” times. Healthy food can still be tasty, too – you just have to get a little creative!
- Start a sports league. Basketball, bowling, softball, cycling – these are just some sports activities you and your co-workers can do together. It’s not only good for better fitness, but outside-the-office activity will also help your workplace bond away from the office.
- Stay informed. Whether it’s a no-smoking campaign or a seminar on staying healthy at the office during flu season, having a 3rd-party expert in to talk about health is an excellent way to promote a better workplace. These presentations are also the perfect opportunities to have healthy catered lunches, which can open the door to healthier eating options.
Urgent Care Extra offers an Occupational Health Plan and Worker’s Compensation Program to better assess and assist with workplace wellness needs. We’ve also published a free Occupational Health Services Whitepaper, with plenty of useful information on the benefits of wellness programs and related resources. Along with our complete lineup of immediate medical care and long-term health programs and plans, we’re an excellent option for individuals and companies looking to bolster health inside and outside of the workplace.
If you would like to improve your current workplace wellness plan, or receive assistance with establishing a new one, we can help! Stop by any of our Arizona or Nevada walk-in health clinics – we currently have over 40 medical care facilities across the southwest region – or give our main support line a call at (480) 988-9108. Thank you for reading the UCE blog – be sure to check back early and often in 2016 for news, analysis, health tips and much more!