Employee Wellness: Healthy Companies Retain Top Talent

RL04-06-2015It is nearly impossible to go anywhere in North America and not see or hear something about healthy living. Whether bombarded with advertisements for the latest wearable technology, infomercials on a new-and-improved home workout gym, or articles informing you on the dangers of obesity, health and wellness is at the forefront of society’s discourse. However, for some companies, this conversation hasn’t affected how they run their businesses—specifically when it comes to health and wellness programs. The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed that 80% of employees believe benefits packages influence their employee engagement with their organizations. And with the majority of workers actively seeking or open to new job opportunities (CareerBuilder), it’s time you ask yourself the question: is your lack of attention to wellness programs costing you employees?

According to the Aflac report, 66% of employees say their companies’ health and wellness programs affect their loyalty and 63% said they affect their productivity. And while this may seem like a non-issue for employers, 53% of employees said their employer benefits affected their decision to leave.

A Company Your Employees Would Leave You For

The overwhelming majority of North American workers aren’t happy with with their employers’ wellness programs. In fact, only 14% are completely satisfied with their current benefits package. And while some may argue benefits are more attributed to health insurance and paid time off, overall wellness programs affect the physical and mental health of the benefactor. In today’s marketplace, it is no longer effective to simply offer the bare minimum; your workers want more than just a decent co-pay and a week-long vacation. They want a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle—and there are companies who will offer it to them.

Good businesses understand that a competitive benefits plan influences well-being and employer reputation in its community, so cutting-edge organizations are focusing on healthy living to build employee morale and engagement. According to Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work For, businesses that made the list tailor-made benefits packages to the needs of individual employees instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. They also understand the mental issues associated with stressful work and focus on helping achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Proactive, Preventive Care

The best aspect of putting the employees’ needs first when it comes to health and wellness is the return on investment. Though companies are joining the likes of Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For by implementing proactive wellness programs, some may claim doing so is cost prohibitive. In today’s economic market, this mindset is not just antiquated, it’s flat-out wrong. By implementing attractive health and wellness plans, companies are taking a proactive, preventive-care approach to health, which has shown to not only be cost effective, but to actually boost productivity and long-term sustainability.

Healthcare can cost up to 50% or more of a company’s profits, according to The Institute of Healthcare Consumerism, and the indirect costs of poor health, including work absence and reduced productivity, can result in two or three times the amount of direct medical costs. However, companies who have implemented a proactive wellness approach have seen a significant return of investment, including an average reduction of 28% in sick days, 26% in health costs, and 30% in workers’ compensation and disability claims. Can your company afford to not take this proactive, preventive approach?

Incentivizing Health

For preventive wellness programs to work, it is imperative to have high employee involvement; otherwise, you’re simply paying to offer a healthy lifestyle without the benefits of a healthy workforce. To ensure this preventive method is effective, companies are incentivizing healthy living. By either offering reduced healthy rates, money, or time off, employees enjoy an added benefit to eating well and exercising regularly.

According to a survey from Aeon Hewitt, 24% of organizations offer incentives for working toward and achieving acceptable biometric measures, including blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar, and cholesterol. In fact, of those who have preventive wellness programs, 56% require employees to participate in health programs, comply with medical prescriptions, or participate in programs like health coaching. These companies are enjoying the benefit of having a healthy, highly productive team.

The Cost of Not Having Wellness Programs

Understanding the benefits of health and wellness programs is the first step in acknowledging what your employees are looking for in an employer. Encouraging employees to have a healthy lifestyle not only reduces workplace stress, absence due to sickness, and disability costs, but it can also boost productivity, mental health, and overall employee engagement. To stay competitive in this ever-changing economy, you have to have the talent to do so. And by not having effective health and wellness programs, you may have to get by with a smaller workforce—as employee sick leave rises or workers find a company that will invest in the overall health.

How have you encouraged healthy living in your office? What type of health and wellness programs does your company offer? Let us know in the comments section below!

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2 Responses to Employee Wellness: Healthy Companies Retain Top Talent

  1. John Rotty April 7, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    My company, The Office Planning Group, having provided proper ergonomic solutions for our customers for over 25 years, has studied the effect of technology in the workplace on our health and wellness. We encourage our clients to implement regular breaks from their computer screens, utilize standing desks or even treadmill desks, take the chairs out of their meeting rooms, offer healthier food at company-sponsored events, and encourage regular exercise and smoking cessation.

    Many studies have proven that the increased use of PC’s, laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc (how many colleagues do you see with multiple monitors on their workstation, which used to only be prevalent in the mission-critical environments like E911, defense, research, control rooms, etc that we have experience with) has the same effect on our health as smoking! If you sit more than half your workday (we don’t get up to go to the file cabinet or down the hall to talk to a colleague nearly as often as we used to), EVEN IF YOU EAT RIGHT AND EXERCISE REGULARLY, you are at the same risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, blood clots, etc as a “couch potato who gets no physical activity at all!

    Consider evaluating your work environment and look for ways to keep your employees moving during the workday. Walking at even 2mph for 60 minutes while working can add up to 10,000 steps per day (the recommended minimum for optimum health) and result not only in healthier employees, but more alert employees who communicate better and make better, smarter business decisions!!

    John Rotty

  2. PulseActiv April 8, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    You are right; now days only that companies retain majority of good talent who provide better care to the employees. By implementing good health and wellness plans, companies can actually boost the productivity and long-term sustainability of employees.

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