Wellness programs have evolved beyond an abstract theory concerning employee health to becoming widely adopted by many small businesses across the U.S. Today, there are far more compelling reasons to implement such a program in your business, as opposed to reasons not to.
Those businesses that so far resist exploring or implementing a wellness program cite these factors as influencing their decision:
- Insufficient employee interest;
- Absence of support among managers;
- Unverifiable ROI; and
- Privacy issues.
These are all legitimate concerns, but a closer look at wellness program benefits may cause you to think again about their value—particularly with respect to reducing expenses associated with absenteeism and the occurrence of injury and illness among employees.
Here's why you should strongly consider implementing a wellness program for your business:
The logic is fairly straightforward. Healthier employees tend to be happier employees, and this generally leads to maintaining a sharper focus on job responsibilities (having more energy and focus, being less distracted by health issues, etc.) and stronger motivation to achieve work-related objectives. Healthy employees are more likely to recover quickly in the event of an illness or injury (and to be less troubled, in general, by chronic conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, smoking-related health concerns, etc.). It's worth noting as well that a healthy employee can have a positive effect on co-workers and workplace productivity as a whole, not just for that individual person.
Studies consistently demonstrate the beneficial effects of wellness programs on employee absenteeism. A Towers Watson survey conducted in 2013 with approximately 900 businesses around the world showed that companies with wellness initiatives saw fewer unplanned absences - an average of 3.3 days, instead of four days. Bob Merberg, Employee Wellness Manager at Paychex explains that increased productivity sometimes takes the form of reduced absenteeism, and sometimes takes the form of reduced presenteeism. "Presenteeism is time when you're at work but your productivity is compromised for health-related reasons. Think of someone who is working with a migraine headache or lower back pain. Wellness can enhance employee recruitment, retention and engagement as well as employees' commitment to their work and to their employer."
Employees with access to on-the-job wellness offerings—such as a gym or work-out station—are more motivated to show up every day, especially if they can exercise with co-workers or otherwise engage in an office-wide healthy activity. Employers see the benefits in fewer sick days on the books.
Recruitment and Retention Benefits
You can be sure that Millennials and qualified job candidates in other demographics constantly weigh the pros and cons of employers who offer an established wellness program versus employers without one. Many employees have had the experience of "carrying the weight" for other workers who either take an inordinate number of sick days or who, even when they're "present," don't put in much effort due to feelings of stress, depression, etc. Such healthy, hard-working employees aren't likely to explore job opportunities with another business that fails to offer a wellness initiative of some kind.
On the more positive side, an effective wellness program can be an incredibly attractive recruiting tool. Wellness programs are "an excellent way to show potential employees that you care about them," writes Alan Kohll, president of Total Wellness. "When employees feel cared for at work, they'll be more engaged, more productive and more willing to come to and stay with your company."