The primary concern for any business is assuring return on investment. Businesses need to be sure that the money spent will result in profit to the organization. For wellness programs, one of the challenges can be getting management to understand the benefits of such a program. The benefits may not be as immediately obvious in terms of cash profit. However, the long term benefits do result in reducing heath care cost and improving worker efficiency and productivity. This change absolutely translates to cash benefits to a company.
Wellness programs can start small and build as the benefits are realized, and become obvious to both management and staff. Programs that simply encourage health and wellness can be easily implemented and can gauge the interest of the workforce before a larger financial investment is made in wellness program. These may include something as simply as providing newsletters on health and wellness. Information and education programs can focus on issues such as doctor visit guideline, tips on how to monitor ones own health, health care screening information, specific disease management information, risk factors, stress management etc.
Proactive, more aggressive programs can have bigger results but do require some investment. These options may include; gym memberships or access to a company gym, mental health and substance abuse benefits for employees and their families, free classes on healthy cooking and nutrition just to name a few. For businesses, the goal of wellness programs is to reduce healthcare costs, improve productivity. Wellness is really no different than company initiative on programs that improve safety and assure employee compliance with laws including sexual harassment or internet policies.
Anything that keeps employees safe, healthy and productive can reduces liabilities across the board for the company. Healthier employees mean not only lower direct health-care costs but also reduced absenteeism and higher productivity. According to the National Business Group on Health, every major corporation is working on adopting some form of health improvement plan for employees (Mochari). The benefits have become obvious and for management that frequently find that their families benefit too, so support for such program is relatively easy to gain.
The benefits of keeping employees feeling young and health is easily understood as healthy employees require less expensive health care and take less days off for illness. One program that gets employees interested in health is called the body age program. This program was used by a company, Clayton Homes in Tennessee. The program gives employees the opportunity to measure their health in terms of the apparent age of their body. They can actually see their age decrease as their health and fitness levels improve.
The body age program assesses body age and compares it to chronological age. Long before they were known as wellness employee programs, Japan, in the 1920’s gave employees time during the workday to exercise. Over the years since then and with the rising costs of health-care, businesses have begun to look at ways to impact the health and ultimately productivity of their employees. There is an abundance of research showing the relationship between costly chronic conditions and life style. Wellness plans have gained credibility as a means of cutting health-care expenses.
Employees that improve health and lifestyle choice are likely to be less of a drain on company health benefits programs including medical insurance and sick time. Having employees that are healthy weights, that don’t smoke or drink and have acceptable levels of cholesterol and get regular health screenings, are a better deal for the company financially. Wellness programs can include a variety of components including diet and nutrition education, mental health services, exercise programs, preventative health screenings, smoking cessations and substance abuse services.
They may be available only to the employee or to their entire family. Thesis Statement – There are tangible and intangible economic benefits to developing a wellness program. These programs can reduce healthcare costs premiums and result in a health, more productive workforce. Wellness programs have growing support politically. In Congress, a bill proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D¬ Iowa) would provide employers with a tax credit of up to $200 per employee for implementing such programs. Three Benefits of Wellness Programs The first benefit of developing a program has to do with direct costs of healthcare benefits for employees.
It is clearly in the company’s best interest to develop a wellness program for the purpose of impacting healthcare costs alone. This number one benefit to the organization is clear and tangible and measurable over time. Reducing demand for medical care is the most obvious benefit and justification of such a program. Workers ‘compensation costs and disability-management costs will also be reduced (Sims). Again, this component can be as simply as providing information and health screenings for employees and heir families.
Getting employees interested in health and identifying potential costly health problems or risk factors early, has the long term effect of reducing the use of costly medical insurance and ultimately can reduce the companies healthcare premiums. The second reason for the development of a wellness program is that studies show employee absenteeism is reduced when wellness programs are implemented. Prudential Insurance studied this issue and found that, disability days were 20 percent lower and disability costs were 32 percent lower after implementing a wellness program (Sims).
It stands to reason that healthy employees come to work regularly and are more productive while they are there. A reduction in what many employees refer to as “mental health day” can also be realized as stress and anxiety is reduced in happy, healthy employees. For employees who have access to the gym at work, for example, the thought of missing their work-out can be enough to get them to work even when they are stressed and temped to take a day off. The third reason for developing a program has to do with productivity and morale.
It stands to reason that happy, healthy employees, who are absent less, are more productive. Wellness programs also help to recruit and retain the most productive employees. There is some developing evidence that shows a correlation between employees who seek out businesses with wellness programs and the most productive workers. Establishing a culture of health and wellness will attract employees who value those things as well. This can only be good for the company as a whole. Wellness program can be an inexpensive ways to show employees the organization is invested in them as people, not just as workers.
Conclusion Wellnesses programs are currently operating in about thirty percent of business are because of the body of evidence supporting such programs, the U. S. expects to see that number double in the near future as more and more companies see the benefits of a happy and healthy workforce. There are tangible and intangible economic benefits to developing a wellness program. These programs can reduce healthcare costs premiums and result in a health, more productive workforce Employee wellness programs are growing in popularity and for good reason; the benefits of developing a program are numerous.
Reducing demand for medical care, workers compensation and disability management is the most obvious benefits. Reducing absenteeism increases productivity. Of course, attracting and maintaining employees that thrive in a healthy, supportive productive environment makes for improved business performance over all. It is clearly in the company’s best interest to develop a wellness program. Wellness program can be an inexpensive ways to show employees the organization is invested in them as people, not just as workers and is an excellent investment for employers