4 Important Statistics about Employee Wellness Programs

Business people practicing yogaIn a 2011 study of occupation-related physical activity, researchers discovered that overall energy expenditure in the workplace has dramatically decreased during the last five decades. According to the study:  “In the early 1960s, almost half the jobs in private industry required at least moderate intensity physical activity, whereas now less than 20% demand this level of energy expenditure.”

Employees are a business’ most important asset, so it stands to reason that leaders would want to ensure the people working on the front lines are healthy in their bodies and their minds. Wellness programs are not a new concept, but as more companies realize the benefits of investing in the wellbeing of their workforce, employee wellness initiatives play a much bigger role in everything from recruitment and retention to overall profitability.

Check out these four important statistics about employee wellness programs.

44% of workers say they’ve gained weight in their present job.

In a recent CareerBuilder survey, a majority of workers said “sitting at the desk most of the day” was the biggest contributor to their weight gain.

Those statistics were backed up in a Refresh Leadership poll where respondents selected weight gain, neck/back pain, and reduced energy levels as the top three ways their desk job has affected their health. In fact, an extended period of sitting at work has been shown to be incredibly dangerous to your overall health if not balanced with enough daily exercise.

It’s a common problem in workplaces across all industries, and a growing issue for employers due to a broad range of implications that affect productivity and profitability, including increased healthcare costs, increased health-related absenteeism, and decreased employee satisfaction.

For most companies, the benefits of a comprehensive health and wellness program far outweigh the cost. Encouraging employees to live a healthier lifestyle not only reduces workplace stress, but it can also boost productivity, mental health, and overall employee engagement.

71% of employees say “benefits package offerings are extremely or very important to their job satisfaction.”

A comprehensive employee wellness program can also be a major selling point for companies trying to attract the best and brightest talent. More than ever, workers today expect more than a paycheck from their employer. A more holistic approach to employee benefits is quickly becoming standard practice for many businesses and a powerful recruiting tool for attracting new employees.

According to the 2016 Aflac Workforces Report:

  • 55% are somewhat likely to accept a job with lower pay, if offered better benefits
  • 53% would participate in a workplace exercise program if it lowered their health insurance cost
  • 36% say better benefits packages would encourage them to keep their current jobs
  • 15% have quit or declined a position due to the benefits

So, when approached as a true employee benefit, rather than simply a loosely organized company initiative, employee wellness programs can be a powerful asset.

73% of employers offer physical activity programs/fitness discounts.

Increased emphasis on employee wellness is a workplace management trend that is only gaining momentum. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2016 Health and Well-Being Touchstone Survey, the number of employers who offer programs that focus on physical activity (73%) is up from the previous year (66%)—a positive sign that employers are taking their employees’ wellness needs seriously and implementing proactive measures that encourage healthier habits.

The PwC survey also indicated that large employers are more likely than small employers to offer a comprehensive wellness program. Some of the most common features of a successful program include:

  • Competition/gamification
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Biometric screening
  • BMI measurements
  • Health risk questionnaires
  • Tobacco cessation programs

In a SHRM study, 72% of organizations said their wellness initiatives were effective.

It is difficult to put an exact number on the ROI for companies that invest in employee wellness, but there are a variety of metrics that can be used to assess the effectiveness of a company sponsored wellness program. Whether it’s decreased health-related absenteeism, lower healthcare costs, or fewer workers’ compensation and disability claims, success largely depends on a company’s overall goals for their specific program.

In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 76% of respondents said their company offered some type of wellness resources to their employees, and nearly three quarters of those reported their programs were “somewhat effective” or “very effective.”

Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to employee wellness, taking steps to build a workplace culture that encourages healthier lifestyles is always a win-win situation. Happy, healthy employees are more likely to feel passionate about their jobs.

How has your employee wellness program—or lack thereof—impacted your workforce productivity? Let us know in the comments section below.

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