There are certain elements in the workplace that lend themselves more readily to compromise and others that remain points of friction despite the best attempts of human resources personnel. Some HR employees may not understand why persistent problems refuse to be resolved, especially when they are promoting fun at work and other positive motivators, incentives and program. It turns out some of this dissent could be linked to employee wellness, as healthy workers may be more amenable to the working environment, while assessing employee motivation may shed light on why dissatisfied staff act as they do.
Adding to the push for healthier employees are some pretty sound studies that show wellness programs for all workers are probably the smartest retention-booster a business can pursue. These initiatives carry plenty of benefits for staff and the company itself, both in cost savings and overall engagement figures, but not all entities are willing to see the value here.
For businesses worried most about the bottom line, there are many benefits to adding employee wellness programs to their portfolios. Still, not all entities are pursuing these options. Only around 40 percent of major businesses provide these services and only one in 10 small companies offers the same advantages. Considering the positive outcomes these programs provide, it may strike some HR personnel as strange that these services are not offered at all organizations.
So what are these nebulous perks of adding wellness to benefits packages? In addition to a healthcare plan, these services are a proactive way of managing employee engagement, showing workers that the company cares about their ongoing health management, rather than just that they show up for work.
But bolstered attendance is one of the perks, after all. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) found companies that actively participated in wellness programs and motivated staff to get involved saw a six-percentage-point reduction in overall absenteeism compared to those lacking the same offerings. What’s more, because employees who participate in wellness programs are being proactive about their health, they can enjoy lower insurance premiums and reduced disability expenses.
What else can employers expect from wellness programs?
- Wellness plans can help businesses detect performance troubles faster, isolating retention issues and improving productivity problems before they get out of hand.
- Workers are easier to hire and hold on to, and that they are generally more satisfied than others without wellness plans.
- Expenses across the board for out-of-pocket healthcare, absenteeism and lower morale are significantly reduced.
Concerned About Costs
For companies that still think it would be too expensive to institute wellness benefits, consider a recent BizJournals report detailing how the Family Dollar Stores just instituted these programs for its workers, despite economic hardships, high unemployment and a consistent – but not booming – profit margin.
Yes, the Family Dollar Store – the discount entity that makes most goods available to its shoppers for less than $10 – found a way to afford wellness incentives. Its staff now receives such lavish benefits as biometrics screenings, health-risk assessments and wellness challenges, and if other companies have not yet noticed, none of these things are actually expensive. They are, however, good deterrents to disengagement and absenteeism, and they make employees feel more valued by their employers.
The Fallout of Failure
It turns out that not investing in workers in this way can be more expensive than the cost of the programs themselves, even if employees don’t use them. Despite all this evidence, about 60 percent of companies still refuse to incorporate them.
Workers at companies without wellness programs are twice as likely to have low retention rates and high healthcare premiums, as well as 47 times more likely to show up to work sick. If the repercussions of coming to the office with a head cold are not obvious, it may be time to check for a pulse – one person showing up with a cold means a week later half the office will be home with the sniffles. This is not only bad for productivity, but it is likely to raise ire in the workplace. Nobody wants to get sick, at work or otherwise.
For companies that want to find a low-cost way of reducing absenteeism, improving employee engagement, cutting healthcare costs and increasing retention rates, investing in wellness programs could be the panacea they are seeking.