With employees experiencing unprecedented levels of chronic stress and burnout, employee wellness is no longer just a perk – it’s a necessity. Today's employees are unwilling to stay at a workplace that is detrimental to their mental and physical well-being. Instead, employees expect a work culture that prioritizes employee health.
Corporate wellness programs are also growing in popularity. According to market research, the global corporate wellness market is forecast to reach a value of 61 billion by 2023, up from 49 billion in 2018.
The good news? By fostering a wellness culture, organizations can ultimately reduce employee turnover and improve their bottom line.
As employee expectations around wellness in the workplace change, organizations can meet employee expectations by adopting an engaging wellness program.
What is a workplace wellness program?
According to Healthcare.gov, a wellness program is defined as:
“A program intended to improve and promote health and fitness that’s usually offered through the work place, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees. The program allows your employer or plan to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives to participate. Some examples of wellness programs include programs to help you stop smoking, diabetes management programs, weight loss programs, and preventative health screenings.”
While traditional workplace wellness programs often focus primarily on physical fitness, modern wellness programs also prioritize on mental health and emotional wellness to promote total employee wellbeing.
What are the benefits of a wellness program?
Employee wellness programs can benefit employers by:
- Lowering health care costs
- Reducing absenteeism
- Increasing employee productivity and motivation
- Boosting employee engagement and wellbeing
When it comes to burnout, wellness initiatives can be especially effective. In 2015, Aetna saw a 28% reduction in stress levels, a 20% improvement in sleep quality, and a 19% reduction in pain as a result of its mindfulness programs.
There are tons of benefits to implementing a wellness program. Not only will your wellness program improve employee retention and boost morale, it will also communicate that you truly value your employees mental health and physical well-being.
3 steps to launching your employee wellness program
Launching a successful wellness benefit can take some planning. Here are 3 tips to get started.
Step 1: Research wellness program options.
To create a successful wellness program, employers first need to consider their company culture and employee demographics. To find out what health programs will resonate with your team, you can start by forming a wellness committee.
Or, to keep things simple, you can send out an employee survey to gauge your team's health and wellness priorities. From gym reimbursement, to life coaching sessions, to stress management classes, determine what perks and wellness activities and incentives might interest your team the most. Then, analyze the survey results and see how they fit into your wellness budget.
After you have a sense of what type of wellness activities your team members value, you can start researching potential employee wellness programs. Ask for recommendations from friends and industry contacts, and if you're looking to introduce wellness software, be sure to check G2 Crowd for software reviews.
Important: When considering a wellness program, avoid common mistakes by finding a program that is inclusive to all team members. In today's work environment, an in-person worksite wellness program is likely to exclude remote team members, so make sure to choose a program that is remote-friendly. An employee health and wellness program that focuses only on walking challenges, for example, could exclude employees with mobility limitations. An employee wellness program with a wide range of participation options is typically best.
Additionally, be sure that you have a measurable way to track your wellness program’s impact. Lack of insight into the ROI of wellness programs can often create hurdles in the adoption of corporate wellness programs. However, modern health and wellness platforms can enable you to track participation and engagement over time, making it much easier to understand and communicate ROI.
Step 2: Determine how you’ll fund your wellness program.
Funding a corporate wellness program is often the biggest issue that employers face when trying to introduce it into their organization. Even when the ROI of an effective wellness program is well-documented, determining how to pay for a wellness program can still be a challenge.
Paying out-of-pocket for a corporate wellness program is typically the easiest way to get your program launched quickly. This can be a huge advantage for companies who’d like to see the benefits (like increased retention and improved employee engagement scores) sooner rather than later.
But there's a second funding possibility that many employers overlook: their health insurance provider. Now that COVID-19 has pushed employee well-being and mental health to the forefront, many health plan providers are offering funds for additional wellness programs.
Talk to your health plan broker to see what may be expensable within your health and wellness account. You might be able to fund a significant portion of your employee wellness benefit through your existing health and wellness budget.
Step 3: Announce and reinforce your new employee wellness program.
Once you’ve decided on a wellness program to implement, it’s time to announce it to your team!
This is the fun part – or at least, it should be! Creating some buzz around your wellness program is important to get team members excited to participate. To take things up a notch, you can treat your team to fun swag (like water bottles or T-shirts), host a virtual or in-person kick-off party, or challenge your employees to come up with a fun slogan for your wellness program. The important thing is that you introduce your wellness program in a way that is positive, welcoming, and inclusive.
Over time, you’ll need to reinforce your wellness program so that employees stay motivated to participate. Keep things fun and fresh by creating unique content around holidays, like fitness challenges in January or heart-healthy recipe challenges in February for National Heart Month. Share messages and reminders about ongoing wellness programs on your intranet or Slack channel.
When managed effectively, a successful wellness program is an important tool to promote workplace health and help employees adopt healthy habits. Ready to learn more about how Cooleaf can help you create a positive wellness experience for your employees? Chat with us!