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The Hidden Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

The Hidden Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

An employee wellness program - what exactly does it do, and why should HR leaders care? We’ve explored the answers to these questions.

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employee health and wellness


In today’s work environment, employers mustn’t neglect the power of wellness packages, platforms, incentives and programs. They are quickly becoming the go-to solution for healthier, happier working lives for millions of employees.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the benefits of a wellness program. Heads up, many of these advantages simply go unnoticed or ignored by leaders. In fact, recent research from Gallup found that just 24% of workers strongly agree that their organization cares about their wellbeing.

What is a wellness program?

Let’s start with the basics! What is a wellness program? To put it in simple terms, a wellness program is a set of incentives, initiatives and decisions that put people first in the workplace. The kind of decisions made that will drive better health and happiness for your people.

It’s also a program that doesn’t just support employees in the workplace but considers their hobbies, interests and goals outside of the work environment. That is the true definition of a great wellness program.

Wellness programs can be found in many organizations, both big and small. For the giants like Microsoft, Salesforce, Netflix and Google, employees are able to access on-campus fitness facilities, clinics and healthcare experts.

For smaller companies, leaders must get creative with wellness programs, such as early finishes to focus on personal wellbeing, development opportunities through platforms like Udemy, Cooleaf, or internal team-wide fitness challenges.

employee wellness

Hidden benefits of an employee wellness program

So, what exactly makes a wellness program, well, a wellness program? Below, we’ve uncovered the hidden benefits of introducing one to your workforce.

Minimize health risks for everyone in your team

If one thing is for certain, it’s that everyone wants to lead a long and healthy life. But granted, it isn’t always easy to build great habits, i.e regular exercise or eat healthier foods.

By offering a solid workplace wellness program, consisting of ways to help employees get active, eat well and build better lifestyles, employers can reduce the risk of health problems and lower healthcare costs for all. And in the workplace, this translates to fewer sick days and better performance.

Leaders will also see fewer cases of absenteeism and presenteeism. People don’t always have a reason to feel under the weather, or would rather not open up about their circumstances. A wellness program that encourages open communication, and supports wellbeing, including physical, emotional and holistic wellbeing, can minimize these issues.

All in all, improving the general health of employees is a win/win for employers, and one reason they should take corporate wellness programs very seriously.

Eliminates monotony

Believe it or not, there are workplaces that employees sincerely love. Offices and teams that employees can’t wait to see and collaborate with. Now, it may sound bizarre to a lot of people, but this is achievable whether you’re a big business or a startup.

Work can become monotonous at times, and a lack of health and wellness programs can further instill this monotony in your workplace. We all need a bit of excitement and fun in life. Things like fitness, health and wellbeing are well known to bring about positive emotions.

When employees participate in your wellness programs, you're boosting employee engagement, but also getting them involved in something they may not have originally had an interest in. New habits and new hobbies are discovered, and you can truly boost motivation and excitement in your workplace.

Looking for fun health & wellness activities to help encourage healthy habits all year-round? Download Cooleaf's free wellness calendar & activity guide.

Health & Wellbeing Calendar 2022

Increase brand reputation

Building a business isn’t easy. A lot of thoughts, ideas, and hurdles take place. One little known reason to provide a wellness program to your employees is due to the benefits it has on brand reputation.

In the modern job market, people are departing their roles left, right and center. When recruiting, brand reputation is handy in finding the best talent. With the rise of websites like Glassdoor, job searchers can find out most things about your company, including leadership styles, employee benefits and more.

The giants of business achieve much more than innovative products and services, it’s also their reputation and fame for providing the very best employee experience when it comes to incentives, perks, and wellbeing.

Understanding the power of wellness programs on both the employee experience (EX), but also how they portray your company image can help tremendously when recruiting.

Retaining your best talent with a wellness program

Businesses now need to do more to retain their employees, and a wellness program can be the answer. Happy, healthy employees stick around, it’s as simple as that. And robust benefits and wellness programs can really help maintain good employee retention levels.

According to Quantum Workplace, almost two-thirds of employee departures are preventable.

Apart from progression and pay increases, benefits are super important to employees. It’s exactly why they are a priority on modern job specifications. People want to know, above their salary, what else an employer cares about and wants to support.

One look at many job specs will reveal a lot about company culture. If an employer speaks highly about learning and development then providing a learning budget, access to courses, event tickets and more says a lot. Candidates applying for these roles are likely going to expect a workplace culture of progression and career development.

And so, your employee benefits and wellness programs talk for you when convincing potential applicants, but also in retaining them. Make sure your wellness program and benefits package reflect a true employee experience.

Onboarding new employees that stick around

Onboarding can be a sticky situation and one that employers must tread carefully around. Employees are more likely to depart in those first few months, making it especially important for leaders to create the very best onboarding strategy. One that takes into consideration their health and wellbeing preferences.

Ideally, your company must offer a robust wellness program, one that includes all aspects of health and wellbeing. Doing so, you’re able to ensure new employers experience the best possible start to their time in the workplace.

Remember: First impressions mean everything, and a new starter's onboarding phase is a first impression (perhaps one of the biggest).

Bringing your employee wellness program to life

While these hidden benefits of employee wellness programs don’t cover the hundreds of ways in which employees are able to perform better, enjoy work and thrive, it does a good job of showing you just how significant wellness programs are in the work environment.

The modern workforce demands better employee benefits, especially with a focus on health and wellbeing. More than ever, people are seeking support for financial wellbeing, mental health, fertility support and learning and development opportunities from leaders. It is becoming the duty of an employer to ensure employees are equipped with the tools and programs to lead healthier, happier lives.

Cooleaf offers a remote-friendly wellness solution for growing teams with integrated step challenges, mental health challenges, physical wellbeing activities, and more. Examples of Cooleaf’s wellness challenges and activities include:

  • 10-Minute Mindfulness Meditation - Employees are encouraged to meditate daily (a healthy habit that reduces stress, boosts the immune system, and lowers blood pressure!)
  • Attitude of Gratitude Challenge - Employees think of three reasons why they are thankful and share them on the Cooleaf platform
  • H20 Only Challenge - Employees commit to drinking at least 64 oz of water a day and share their progress with photos
  • Unplug for 20 Minutes a Day Challenge - Participants must “unplug” from all technology for at least one hour a day and post what they did during that hour instead

On top of helping your team adopt and maintain healthy habits, participation in these challenges and activities lead to automated reward points that your team can use instantly on thousands of reward options.

Cooleaf Step Challenges

Employers are increasingly turning to employee wellness programs as a way to promote healthy behaviors, a way to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and turnover, avoid burnout, improve stress management and make employees feel valued.

For more insight into how employee health and wellbeing is being considered in the today’s workplace, read through Heka’s Q1 Employee Wellbeing Report.

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of wellness programs, what can you do next to support employees?

Cooleaf is here to help your team launch a successful employee wellness program. We work with you to understand your goals and prescribe programming.

Request Cooleaf demo & pricing

Alex Hind is the CEO & Co-founder of Heka, an employee wellbeing platform based in the UK, and serving thousands of employees with their health and happiness.

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