When it comes to improving overall well-being and productivity, investing in workplace wellness programs is among the most effective and powerful choices a company can make. Often, these benefits are discussed in terms of health care cost reductions and insurance savings, where the savings are noteworthy; a 2011 study, for instance, demonstrated that health care costs increased 15% more slowly for companies with wellness programs relative to those without.
But while these are significant and extremely worthwhile gains, they’re only a small part of the reason why wellness programs are one of the wisest investments you can make in your greatest workplace asset: your employees! Upon more thorough investigation, the benefits of these programs extend way beyond the bottom line.
An obvious benefit perhaps: workplace wellness programs improve access to information and resources that enable team members the opportunity to take a proactive role in their health. That may be why employees with companies that offer these resources tend to be more knowledgeable about health care issues and how to prevent them, as well as about their health care coverage and benefits. As a result, they tend to be more informed and able to make healthier choices and reduce preventable illnesses. This outcome is decreased health care and insurance costs for both the individual and the employer; which can usually be identified after at least 3 years.
In addition to spending less on healthcare and insurance, fit and healthy individuals are more productive than their less-active peers by 12% (according to one source!). This may be why Corporate Wellness Magazine reported that every $1 invested in wellness programs yields approximately $4 in increased productivity. On average, employees of organizations with workplace wellness programs take fewer sick days, and report higher levels of energy and productivity than those of companies without them. In fact, some organizations have reported overall decreases in sick-leave by 28% following implementation of wellness programs.
In addition to improving an employee’s rate of work, fitness has been shown to have a marked impact on the quality of their performance. Regular exercise has been associated with improved retention of information, speed of learning, and strategic decision-making. Exercise also helps reduce stress, and lower error rates. Workplace wellness programs have also been linked to decreased on-the-job injuries, since more informed employees tend to be more knowledgeable about workplace safety.
According to one source, 62% of American employees believe that workplace wellness initiatives are successful in improving health and reducing risk (up from 55% in 2011). Employees appreciate these resources, which have been shown to reduce stress, improve interpersonal relations at work, and improve individuals’ sense of well-being and self-esteem. In fact, two-thirds (66%) of employees enrolled in a wellness program were “very” or “extremely satisfied” with their job, compared to 53% of employees in jobs without these resources.
Employers who offer wellness programs report enhanced recruitment and retention, with 45% of employees reporting that offering these programs would encourage them to stay at their current job. In addition to the positive benefits on an individual scale, these are great assets for the organization’s overall well-being; the availability of workplace wellness programs enhances the reputation of companies that offer them, and raise their esteem among actual and potential employees. These benefits can yield long-term returns, especially insofar as they make these employers more competitive in attracting top candidates, and reducing the high expenses associated with turnover.
The benefits of workplace wellness programs are not only impressive – they’re also diverse! Few investments offer such great return in so many different ways. And given the relatively low costs of implementing and offering them – especially relative to these tremendous gains – it might be worth wondering: can your organization afford not to offer them?