Wellness Strategies that Work
A recent article in Employee Benefit Plan Review titled, “Wellness Programs: A Prudent Investment”, determined the one program that could have the greatest impact for most businesses is a wellness program.
As was discussed in our Part 1 blog, there are multiple business reasons to consider implementing wellness initiatives. Businesses of all sizes are following the trend of addressing health and wellness throughout their organizations. According to Workplace Wellness Trends: 2017 Survey Results, companies recognize that their workforces are diverse and are making it a priority to provide a wide-range of wellness initiatives, including:
- Screening and treatment for free or discounted flu shots (83%), health screenings (66%), smoke-free work environments (65%), and health risk assessments (61%).
- Fitness and nutrition offerings with competitions or challenges (57%), healthy food choices (49%) and health coaching (48%).
- Community and social health events such as charity drives (67%), onsite celebrations (58%), volunteer projects (56%), and blood drives (53%).
- Mental and behavioral health programs such as EAPs (85%) mental health coverage (67%) and services for substance abuse (58%).
- Employee growth and purpose efforts such service recognition (72%), tuition reimbursement (66%), and internal job openings (61%).
Small business owners may believe a wellness plan is just too expensive to implement. However, they just need to make it a priority by beginning with some initial activities and engage their employees. Because here’s an added benefit companies may not think of at the outset, but if they get participation, it will positively impact their workers’ compensation costs. Something many employers often feel is out of their control. A healthier workforce means fewer injuries and less time away from the job should an injury occur. It’s a relatively simple concept, but one employers are realizing has important value to efficiently managing their business costs.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefits offers several key best practices that organizations can initially follow to create impactful wellness initiatives that will engage workers and organically produce behavior change. Here’s what small businesses should consider:
Develop Social Strategies – Make it social and make it a game. Employees have Facebook friends and like to connect with others. So create some peer-to-peer and team-based challenges that include online communication and the more ways you can use gamification the better.
Provide Mobile Access – Workers are very comfortable with technology so use texting, the Internet and social media to make your wellness initiatives quickly accessible.
Make It Part of Corporate Culture – Organizations with a strong culture of health are more likely to take action about their own health and rate their overall work performance very positively.
Take a Holistic Approach – Try to consider as many aspects of health and wellness as possible such as, having energy, being happy, leading a balanced life and maintaining a spiritual balance as these are all aspects of personal well-being.
For small business owners looking to test the waters or just get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas to start with:
- Organize a group walk at lunchtime
- Have employees create personal goals, track their progress and provide small rewards
- Have a raffle with healthy giveaways like a water bottle, workout shirt or pedometer
- Share healthy recipes in the company newsletter
Wellness activities or a more formal program can reduce the frequency, severity and duration of illness or injuries. If employees become healthier they will be more productive and less likely to be absent from work. Plus, company wellness goals let employees know that their employer cares about them.