Introduction to Employee Wellness Programs
Risky health behaviors by staff members cost a company. Changing those behaviors can save the employer money and increase the staff member’s productivity.
Because work gives an staff member a stable setting and support system, Employee Wellness Programs can have a great impact on reducing high-risk behaviors. This impact results in reduce health claims cost, less rates of absenteeism, and less short-term disability.
Employee Wellness Programs can include:
- Awareness Raising Programs: Health and wellness newsletters, health topics covered in payroll stuffers and healthy emails.
- Health Risk Assessment: Employee health screenings, health fairs, health risk appraisals.
- Educational Programs: Lunch and Learn wellness seminars, guest speakers at staff meetings.
- Skill Building: Healthy cooking demonstrations, activity challenges, CPR instruction opportunities, stress management classes, weight management classes.
- Interventions: Massage, smoking cessation, and skills to help you get the most out of your doctor visit.
- Physical setting: Healthy items in the vending machines and cafeterias, clean air practices, ergonomics, bike racks, flex time, well-lit stairways.
- Evaluation: Employee needs assessment, baseline Employee Wellness Plan evaluation measures, ongoing Employee Wellness Plan evaluation of overall effectiveness.
Why Make available Employee Wellness Programs
The typical employer spends about $8,000 a year on an employee’s health care. This includes medical insurance, disability and worker’s compensation. As these costs climb, medical insurance is expected to rise at least 10% per year.
A 1999 study showed that organizations using Employee Wellness Programs had a return on investment (ROI) from $1.49 – $13 in benefits per dollar spent. The amount depended on the nature of the Employee Wellness Programs used. (S. Aldana, American Journal of Wellness, 2001; 15:296-320)
One study showed that a “stop smoking” element to Employee Wellness Programs can save between $404 -$40,829 per employee, depending on the age and sex of the staff member.
The Employee Wellness Programs at Traveler’s Company included a self-care book, a newsletter, single-topic brochures, and videotapes. The Employee Wellness Programs saved the company $7.8 million in employee benefi t costs, decreased doctor visits, and it reduced rates of absenteeism by 1.2 days per staff member per year. The estimated Employee Wellness Programs ROI was $3.40 per dollar spent.
In 1998, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) reported a study of 46,026 staff members from six large businesses for three years. Workers with an inactive lifestyle had 10% higher costs; staff members with depression had 70% higher costs.
Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
- Improved Productivity – The Canada Life Assurance Company realized a 4% rise in productivity after starting an employee fitness program.
- Improved Job Satisfaction – According to employee opinion surveys conducted by the Silverstone Group about their Employee Wellness Programs, staff members’ morale improved, which helped support a more creative work setting.
- Improved Recruitment & Retention – In the midst of a tight labor market, Employee Wellness Programs could be a important tool to draw new recruits.
- Decreased Absenteeism – Canada Life Assurance Company’s rates of absenteeism dropped 42% among staff members in the Employee Wellness Programs.
- Decreased Workers Comp & Disability – In one year, Boeing Company’s number of back injuries decreased by 34%. Six million dollars was saved by tracking injuries as they occurred.
- Managed Medical Care Costs – Golden, Colorado Adolf Coors Company’s Employee Wellness Programs returned $6.19 for every dollar spent.