Promoting a Healthy Workplace Can Benefit Employers
In case the benefits of a healthy workplace aren't yet clear to business owners, consider these statistics, courtesy of Officevibe:
- Workplace wellness initiatives generate a 28 percent reduction in sick leave, and a 26 percent reduction in medical costs.
- Such programs also see a 19 percent reduction in absenteeism and a savings to businesses of $264 per employee.
- Employees who take part in a wellness program report 70% fewer sick days, as opposed to employees who opt out of the program
Types of Health Programs to Consider
A well-designed in-house health program may address such chronic diseases as depression and hypertension, which, left untreated, can dramatically affect workplace productivity and morale. By providing employees with both the motivation and resources to lead healthier lives, businesses can enjoy greater productivity, reduced employee absenteeism, and decreased insurance and workers' compensation costs.
What types of healthy workplace programs should a small business consider? Here are some of the most effective and popular programs can businesses offer:
- Heart health
- Mental health
- Stress management
- Weight management
- On-site fitness and recreation
- Tobacco and alcohol awareness
- Workplace safety
Not every approach has to take on the dimensions of a full-blown health program. You can also implement basic policies, such as providing employees with time to exercise during the day and making sure there are healthy food choices in the office vending machines.
Recruitment and Retention Benefits
As noted, the potential cost savings to employers is considerable. A healthier workforce means fewer dollars spent on direct medical costs, disability and workers’ compensation expenses, as well as the costs of recruiting and training new employees to replace sick or injured workers.
There are also image and brand-building rewards that come from proactively addressing employee health issues. Qualified job candidates may regard workplace health programs as a factor in their employment decision. Incorporating wellness into an overall compensation and benefits package may be a wise strategy for attracting (and retaining) the best employees out there. Such an approach can help brand you as a highly sought-after "employer of choice."
For your employees, taking part in a wellness program may offer significant "intangible" benefits. Employees who take care of themselves have a better self-image and heightened self-esteem; they also may improve their overall coping skills, so they can deal with stress and other issues affecting their health better than employees without such resources. This in turn can lead to higher job satisfaction, not to mention the likelihood that their own family members will emulate their healthy habits as well. Multiply this by every employee in your business and soon you have a thriving, health-focused culture that generates both a safer and a more supportive workplace.
Small businesses might feel that larger companies have an advantage with their wellness programs, but according to Bob Merberg, employee wellness manager at Paychex says, “smaller companies have the advantage because they add a sense of community to their wellness programs. An important part of wellness is social support. Friendly walking clubs and yoga classes enable participants to support and encourage each other. Feeling connected at work is an important component.”
The bottom line is that small businesses today probably can't afford not to sponsor a health and wellness program in the workplace. The costs involved are still much less than the costs of lost productivity, absenteeism, etc. Plus, such a program demonstrates to employees that you genuinely care about their well-being, which in turn can breed loyalty to you as an employer and a willingness to give their all to the business.