Wellness Programs: What You May Not Know
Posted on September 7, 2011 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
When I think of wellness programs in organizations, I often attribute these programs to weight loss and other health related problems. Organizations often advertise wellness programs with some sort of exercise picture or description. Wellness programs can lead to better health throughout the organization, but there are other great benefits that organizations often do not consider.
Employees with poor health often miss more work. The rate of absenteeism for employees with health issues is substantially higher than those employees that are healthy. What you may not know is the extreme negative impact absenteeism has on an organization. It is estimated that the cost of absenteeism each year can be as much as $26 million dollars. Because of this strikingly high number, organizations often find themselves in a situation of needing some type of organizational intervention.
More and more organizations are turning to wellness programs to better the health of employees. Finally, the benefits of wellness programs and improved health in employees are not being put on the backburner. Organizations are educating employees about health conditions, how to prevent them, and providing employees with the tools to combat conditions.
So, what exactly is a wellness program? A wellness program provides employees with education, discussions, and resources to better their health and well-being. Many organizations now have exercise facilities on site to provide employees with an easily accessible option for exercising. Other organizations focus on motivating employees to change their behaviors to improve their health. For example, many organizations have adopted a “Biggest Loser” challenge named after the popular television show. Employees are placed on teams and whichever team loses the most weight after a period of time wins a prize.
The great thing about a wellness program is the opportunity for organizations to be creative. Organizations can make wellness programs want they want them to be. Depending on the demographics, an organization may choose different options. Studies have demonstrated that an organization’s willingness to invest in employees through wellness programs tend to have more satisfied employees. When employees are able to improve their health and well-being not only do they feel better about themselves, but they feel better about their organization. For some, it may have been their organization that jump started an interest in improving health. Wellness programs are often used as a powerful recruiting tool for organization’s to demonstrate interest in employees in the work setting and outside of work.
Many organizations feel that it is enough to have a gym on site and call it the company’s “wellness program.” While this may work for some, a gym alone is not always the best option. As an organization, you must be willing to think about your employees and what types of programs would be best suited for them. Not everyone will want to work out at the same gym as their coworkers, and some people prefer not to exercise at gyms at all. Therefore, for a wellness program to accomplish its purpose, the organization has a responsibility to find out what employees want. A simple survey can point out areas that are missing from a wellness program and provide the organization options for implementing new ideas.
In your experience, what makes a great wellness program?
Reference: Parks, K., & Steelman, L. (2008). Organizational wellness programs: A meta-analysis. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 13, 58-68.