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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 60% of employees do not get sufficient exercise. In turn, corporate wellness programs are more imperative than ever. What exactly is corporate wellness? An article in the December 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review defines corporate wellness as "an organized program that a company initiates for their employees – and sometimes their employees’ family members – to help reduce health risks, to enhance personal effectiveness, to improve quality of life and to benefit the organization’s bottom line". Corporate wellness programs vary from offering small incentives like gym membership to educating the entire employee base to focus on behavioral changes, like the Billings based company Healthy Is. There are so many benefits of launching a corporate wellness program with in your company, but here are my top 3:
Healthy employees miss less work which naturally makes sense. Poor employee productivity can be defined as physically being at work without actually working; this lack of productivity is called presenteeism (1). An estimated cost due to presenteeism and poor employee health is 2 to 3 times greater than actual health care expenses (2). While there are many reasons why employees may be checking out while working, one main cause of presenteeism is poor health (3).
By offering a wellness program to employees, management is showing that they are willing to invest in employee health and wellbeing and that they can be successful not only at work, but outside of work as well. High workplace morale allows employees to be creative, problem solve, feel appreciated, and builds camaraderie.
The foundation of any wellness program (corporate or not) should focus on developing healthy behaviors. In as little as six weeks, an increase in healthy behaviors can lower health risks for up to 18 months (4). Another study looked at 173,000 wellness program participants and 7 risk factors (blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol level, nutrition, physical inactivity, stress, and tobacco use) and showed that 5 of 7 health risks improved after 1 year. Participation in additional wellness activities such as biometric screening increased the odds of risk factors being even more so reduced (5).
There is a great deal of research to support the benefits of corporate wellness programs. An engaging corporate wellness program is going to improve employee productivity, boost company morale, and significantly reduces elevated health risks. Corporate wellness programs creates a worksite culture of "health". With a successful wellness program, you can improve the lives of your employees and their families in addition to help the success of your company.