You run a business, took care and attention in creating a great culture that aligns closely with your values, while spelling out a vision and mission that resonate for your employees. You think you have done a pretty good job overall in creating an organization that works. But something is still not right. Productivity is not what it should be and your employees seem to be absent from work more than you would like. Is it time to think about a company wellness program?
The numbers are eye opening. Over the last two decades North America has seen increased numbers in diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. According to a 2010 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the long term effects of these issues are worrisome and for the first time in decades we will see life expectancy decrease. And these issues are affecting all age groups.
Employers need to take notice. Employee health directly impacts attendance, job performance, work conduct and health care costs. Most of these costs can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet/nutrition.
Another culprit in the workplace today is stress, which the United Nations is calling “the 21st Century Disease”. Many people will complain that their job is stressful and then take this stress home to their personal relationships and activities. Stress too will ultimately lead to a number of productivity challenges for companies including employee absenteeism.
A March 2004 Ipsos-Reid study reported that the main preventable contributors to employee absenteeism is depression/anxiety/other mental health issues (66%), stress (60%), (negative) relationship with supervisor/manager (44%) and co-worker conflict in the workplace (28%).
The good news is that many of these illnesses and issues are preventable and employees can be educated around better lifestyle choices through education, activities and health care funding.
Businesses can take the lead and look at ways to create a healthy workplace culture. The proven and measured benefits to the organization are many including:
- Improved productivity and performance
- Ability to attract top talent
- Reduced employee turnover and absenteeism
- Reduced insurance costs
- Increased creativity and overall motivation
And for the accountants reading, a proven ROI. A study by the US Centers for Disease Control found “that comprehensive worksite health programs focused on lifestyle behavior change have been shown to yield a $3 to $6 ROI for each dollar invested”. And in Canada, according to Medisys Health Group, 77 out of the Top 100 Employers in Canada have wellness programs, and those tracking the results find their expectations met or exceeded.
So you have looked at the stats and realize it is time to implement a corporate wellness program. What next? Here are some tips on implementing a program:
- Focus on changing poor health habits;
- Do a comprehensive assessment of the company and the health risk factors of the employees;
- Commitment to the program must start at the top; management must lead by example;
- The wellness component must be structured and integrated into the company’s business strategy with a budget, timeline and planning of resources;
- The program must be integrated into the company’s management system, and
- Communication is critical – have a strategy then market it and communicate it clearly A properly implemented corporate wellness program can have a positive impact on the bottom line, improve a company’s culture and help it become a great place to work.