Wellness takes work, effort, and time. Healthy behaviors simply don’t happen overnight.
A corporate wellness program is an employer's approach to achieving a healthy workplace using various health activities within the daily work schedule to promote employees’ well-being. This basically takes a holistic approach toward the health of employees by creating a supervisory health culture.
These health activities can range from anything to everything centered around health if it means driving the employees toward maintaining good health. Corporate wellness programs can be found in many forms across different organizations.
Corporate wellness programs too can be customized according to an organization’s needs, size, and budget.
What is included in a corporate wellness program?
Wellness is frequently associated with gym memberships or green smoothies, limiting the scope to just physical well-being, where in fact, well-being is a result of complex interactions that improve health and quality of life. Effective wellness programs address and promote holistic dimensions of well-being such as:
The easiest dimension to promote is due to the people’s familiarity with the concept. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep fall under the umbrella of physical wellness.
Emotional wellness is the ability to manage our own emotions and express them to others effectively. It’s more than just the ability to handle stress; it also involves attentiveness to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors - positive or negative. A very closely related concept to this is mental health - there are many tools to use to effectively enhance an employee's mental health and emotional well-being.
Financial wellness can be defined as an individual’s spending and saving money thoughtfully and thinking about how their personal finances contribute positively to their short-term and long-term goals. Achieving this requires financial literacy, which is where employers can be of assistance.
Social wellness can be thought of as our personal social network. We are a social species and we depend on one another and our well-being critically depends on our sense of belonging. Wellness programs can be designed to promote positive social interactions, boost team cohesion, and improve engagement.
Occupational wellness is our satisfaction, fulfillment, and contentment with work. Work-life balance and professional development play a significant role in determining our occupational wellness, and an important driver of the value of employee wellness programs as companies get increasingly focused on recruitment and retention.
Wellness also includes having values and beliefs that provide purpose in life, which allows us to feel at peace and in harmony with ourselves and others. It’s also the ability to stay open-minded to others' beliefs. This dimension of well-being is often referred to as spiritual well-being. Addressing purpose in wellness programs can be tricky since it’s an individualized journey but it is important to raise awareness which will help employees become more purposeful and satisfied with their lives.
When we’re intellectually well, we continuously work on expanding our knowledge and skills, which leads to a more stimulating and successful life. Companies can nurture intellectual well-being by promoting creativity, curiosity, and life-long learning.
Companies can play their part by promoting sustainable living, raising awareness, and implementing sustainable operations as a part of their wellness program. For immediate results, employers can focus on the work environment (e.g., office air quality), which is within their locus of control.
Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
Even though the advantages of an employee wellness program may be hard to see at first glance, employees who are healthy usually bring a range of benefits to other employees and to the companies they work for. Here are some of the benefits of an employee wellness program.
1. More productivity
Employees who eat healthily and exercise regularly are likely to be more productive than those who don’t. Poor health behaviors are usually linked to high levels of unproductivity and ultimately lead to higher health risks and chronic diseases.
2. High employee morale
Wellness programs make employees feel appreciated and valued. Employees are happier when they feel appreciated and valued by their employers. The offer of wellness programs usually leads to more enthusiastic employees at work.
3. Improve recruitment and retention of employees
Good wellness programs will help companies to hire, as well as retain, the best employees. Many people are strongly influenced by the presence of health offerings and other benefits when they choose an employer. Wellness plans also play a vital role in employee retention, by helping to keep the employees loyal.
4. Reduced absenteeism
Workplaces with comprehensive wellness programs experience less absenteeism, due to employees being healthier and suffering less stress, leading to cost savings.
5. Reduced health risks
Helping employees adopt healthy behaviors such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding tobacco lowers health risks. Low health risks lead to reduced healthcare costs.
6. Building camaraderie among workers
Some initiatives offer employees the chance to experience other activities unrelated to work, such as participating in a sports team, going to the gym, or eating lunch together. The interaction of co-workers facilitates bonding that helps teams work better together.
What are some examples of corporate wellness programs?
1. Healthy Lunch and Snacks
Provide enough time for their team members during lunchtime to hit the gym, play a sport, or even head home to eat a healthy homemade lunch. There are also healthy snack delivery services that have emerged lately and can be used to deliver healthy snacks to employee offices instead of them having to go out looking for food. Since everyone needs to eat, good snack and lunch programs and the promotion of healthy eating at the workplace appeal to everyone.
2. Assistance Programs
Provide personal support for issues such as substance abuse, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many work-related stress issues experienced by employees can be addressed through guided support programs outside the workplace. These types of programs help employees to achieve peace of mind so that they can perform at their best, and boost their confidence and satisfaction between the employer and employees.
A siesta after lunch during a hectic day always leaves one feeling reinvigorated. You can have specialized nap rooms where employees who want to take a brief nap after lunch can go. They can then return to their projects with renewed energy after catching a quick nap. Naps have been clinically proven to provide benefits in productivity!
4. Community Service Activities
Doing good deeds and helping others usually make many people feel good and fulfilled. Organize a day where staff can volunteer in the community; from fundraisers and groups for causes they feel passionate about. These programs also help facilitate closer relationships among employees.
5. On-site Fitness Centers
This might be considered the granddaddy of all corporate wellness program examples. Not everyone can provide their team members with a 72,000-square-foot fitness center, but you can provide on-site gym services and fitness classes to help employees keep fit.
6. Smoking Cessation Programs
It's no secret that, on average, team members who smoke cigarettes cost their employers more money due to health issues compared to non-smokers. Some workplaces have found it in their best interest, both ethically and economically, to offer smoking cessation programs to their team members.
7. Transit Options
Encouraging alternative methods of transportation, such as bike sharing or public transit incentives, are beneficial to the workplace and the future of the environment. These types of workplace wellness programs appeal to current and potential employees who value environmental responsibility.
8. Paramedical Services
Services like massage therapy for team members while they're at work. A relaxed and calm team member is a joy to have in the workplace, which is a good reason to consider this example.
9. Yoga Classes
Yoga and meditation are extremely effective stress relievers. It is an effective way to incorporate self-care into work, so that team members don't have to feel guilty about neglecting work. If you have little office space, conference or break rooms can be used for yoga classes.
How do you create a corporate wellness program?
1. Conduct an assessment
Have employee surveys to evaluate their preferred personal wellness interests and needs. It will help assess the current climate on how the program will be received and what information they are willing to share. Conduct an organization assessment as well to determine which types of wellness programs to offer.
2. Obtain management support
Support from management is essential in building a successful wellness program. Management can provide additional assistance by helping link the health promotion objectives to business outcomes, thereby positioning wellness as a fundamental part of the organization.
3. Establish a wellness committee
After conducting a needs assessment and obtaining management support, create an internal, employee-driven committee that helps build and sustain a wellness culture in the company. They will help build organizational support and effectiveness for the wellness program.
4. Develop goals and objectives
Using the information gathered from the assessment, establish goals and objectives for the program. A key goal is to improve workers' health and thereby reduce healthcare costs. Other goals may include reducing absenteeism, boosting worker productivity, and increasing retention. Each goal has one or more objectives to ensure that the goal will be successfully accomplished. Objectives should be clear, time-limited, and stated in such a way that it is easy to determine whether they have been achieved.
5. Establish a budget
Without funding, the program will stall. That is why establishing a budget is a critical step in creating the wellness program. Include the cost of incentives, marketing, and program design in the budget. Typical items in a budget would include screening vendor/other provider fees; incentives for participation; promotional materials; meeting provisions; pedometers/fitness trackers; HR representative and committee member time; etc.
6. Design wellness program components.
There is not one standard program, as each will vary based on organizational needs and resources. The wellness program may range from a very simple program to an elaborate multi-prong program. It is important to include a variety of components that target risk behaviors and the needs and interests of the employees. Organizations can use the resources obtained in previous steps of organizational assessment, in wellness committee data gathering and in budgetary constraints, as well as in the goals and objectives, to determine the types of wellness programs include in the design.
7. Select wellness program incentives or rewards
Incentives or rewards are an effective tool to change unhealthy behaviors, adhere to healthy behaviors, increase participation rates, or help individuals complete a program. The argument for rewarding employees for participating in a wellness program pulls from the basic principles of behavioral psychology: People are driven to act by the positive consequences they expect from their actions. Building a rewards system into a wellness program is a great motivator. Rewards can take many forms, including points that can be exchanged for goods, gifts celebrating accomplishments, or monetary awards.
8. Communicate the wellness plan
The next step is to write and communicate the organization's wellness policy. This policy statement should include the organization's intent, level of involvement, and rewards and incentives system with respect to employee wellness. In communicating the reward system to employees, presenting a John Doe example may help them see the program in real-life terms.
9. Evaluate the success of the program
Last but not the least, evaluating the effectiveness of the wellness program is important in sustaining management and employee support and in revising or implementing new programs. Employers should have established metrics and baselines at the rollout of any wellness initiative, which will vary depending on the programs implemented.