From the May 2021 Mercy Occupational Medicine eNewsletter
Building a culture of health in your company’s workforce can have real and lasting benefits for your organization like improved morale, increased productivity, and lower absenteeism. However, increasing your employees’ overall wellness can take more than simply posting health tips in the breakroom. To be successful, a company’s wellness program should include multiple initiatives that drive better, more meaningful outcomes. Below are some things to consider when thinking about an Employee Wellness Program for your organization.
What is a culture of health, and why do I need one?
In short, it is an internalized pattern of behaviors and policies that support and encourage healthy lifestyles in a company’s workforce. Not only beneficial to employees, an overall healthier workforce can also significantly impact the company’s overall economic health. Consider these benefits:
Improved productivity, lower risk for injury and lower absenteeism
Employees who scored low on “life satisfaction” surveys stayed home from work 1.25 more days per month than those with higher scores, adding up to about 15 additional absent days per year. – source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2016
Lower healthcare costs
Employees who take simple steps to a healthier lifestyle — like walking 30 minutes per day, eating healthier, not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and drinking in moderation — spend 33% to 50% less on healthcare than coworkers who are more sedentary. Programs aimed at healthier lifestyles can even influence lower insurance premiums for the entire organization.
Better morale/employee retention
Satisfied employees are more engaged, boast better morale, and are easier to retain. 67% of employers with wellness programs have reported that their employees are more satisfied. – source: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
How do I get started with an employee wellness program?
Getting started with an employee health and wellness program is easier than you might think. Below are some actionable steps to help you and your company create a successful employee wellness program:
- Start with the Facts. Successful programs use information about the specific company’s workforce to develop personal and customized programming for the organization. For example, claims information can show ER overutilization, prescription data shows medication adherence, and lab results may show diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions. Knowing historic and current conditions that exist in your workforce, you can develop customized programs that are more effective at reducing risks than a one-size-fits-all strategy.
- Make a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. Goals for any employee health program should be spelled out early in the planning phase to ensure success. Consider goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable,Realistic, and Time-bound.
- Involve Your Employees. Remember: The reasons employees participate in a wellness program may not be the same reasons your team decided to start the program in the first place. Try to identify and connect with what matters most to your team. You may want to have employees complete a survey about what they want in a wellness program. (Hint: Entering members who complete the survey into a workplace raffle is always a hit.)
- Drive Engagement. Effective programs take inventory of potential participation barriers and use a multi-point communication strategy to overcome them. Some strategies to engage employees might be clear and ongoing communication, company recognition, incentives that align with company values, and increased culture of health.
- Share Outcomes. One of the ways to help ensure success of any company-wide program is to communicate progress and outcomes to your employees. This helps to maintain a sense of involvement from those enrolled in the program and illustrates the commitment employers have to a healthy workforce.
Initiate support from the top down:
Offering wellness programs that are encouraged and supported through participation by your company’s leadership demonstrates a lead-by-example culture of health in your organization. The most successful employee wellness programs engage participants with resources and opportunities to be successful in leading a physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially healthy life.
Mercy Occupational Medicine can help you and your leadership team implement strategic plans for health and wellness programming. Please contact us to discuss how we can help support a healthier workforce with wellness initiatives, as well as the benefits they can bring to your company. We can provide employers with a variety of onsite options from annual employee health checks to employee clinics staffed with a provider.
To find out how Mercy Occupational Medicine can support your employee wellness initiatives, contact Jeff Howell.