How to strengthen your benefits with wellness programs

Work Wisdom

How to strengthen your benefits with wellness programs

What do your organization’s employees really want (besides a speedy end to the pandemic)? One recent poll says more Americans aspire to eat healthier, get more exercise and save more money than any other change.

Those goals might not appear to have a straight line to traditional benefits programs your company offers. After all, having health insurance doesn’t necessarily mean employees will make wiser food choices, and signing up for disability coverage isn’t going to lace up their walking shoes for them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact on your employees’ wellness. In fact, there’s a wide array of wellness programs — physical, mental and financial — that will benefit both employees and the business.

Increase wellness, decrease spending

First, it’s important to understand employee health and wellness matters — a lot. A healthier workforce is not only more productive, it also helps curb the constantly rising cost of health care – for employees and employers.

Take absenteeism, for example. The Centers for Disease Control estimates a $225.8 billion cost to employers — that’s $1,685 per employee — in productivity losses linked to missed work days. And people going to work when they’re sick account for nearly two-thirds of the total cost of worker illness. This negatively impacts not only productivity, but also morale.

Helping those of us who resolve to improve nutrition or lose weight can have positive impacts on medical costs, too. In fact, employees with a healthier diet and healthy weight incur far lower medical expenses because they have lower health risks and fewer chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension.

The results of a successful wellness program can be measured in fewer sick days, reduced occurrences of preventable chronic conditions and their complications, a more positive work environment, increased productivity and higher employee retention rates due to improved morale.

Results also can be measured on both your clients’ bottom line and in their employees’ wallets. Estimates from different studies vary, but generally show a return of at least three-to-one for every dollar a company invests in a comprehensive wellness program. And healthier employees spend less on doctor’s office co-pays, prescriptions and other treatments that may not be covered by medical insurance until they meet their deductibles.

Think broadly about wellness benefits

Employee wellness and wellbeing encompasses not only physical health but also financial, mental and emotional health. These areas of wellbeing also overlap and interact: If you’ve ever dealt with a headache while juggling overdue bills, you know worrying over financial problems can cause stress that can lead to physical health problems.

The good news is there are many benefit programs you can offer to help ensure a healthier, happier, more productive workforce — especially in today’s challenging and uncertain environment. Even better news: Many are available at low or no cost from your benefits providers. Think identity monitoring, financial education, discounts on drugs, student loan support, telemedicine and employee assistance programs.

Take steps now to encourage your company to take advantage of wellness programs and services that can help them save money and create a happier, more productive workforce.

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