Employee wellness is more than a new-age concept. For business owners, it can translate to cold, hard cash. In fact, according to the 2016 AFLAC Workforces Report, the vast majority of employers surveyed reported lower health care costs as a result of corporate wellness initiatives. By promoting wellness in the workplace, you can create a happier environment, save money on expensive insurance policies, and reduce productivity loss due to stress and sick days.
The health risks of sitting for extended periods of time are well-documented, and one of the most obvious ways to increase employee wellness is to boost physical activity. Hold standing meetings, and encourage workers to hold one-on-one meetings while walking around the neighborhood. If you have the budget, invest in standing desks or treadmill disks. Turn the process into a friendly competition with wearable fitness trackers, and offer prizes to employees who take at least 10,000 steps per day for a set period of time.
Offer Onsite Medical Care
Finding time to visit the doctor for preventive care can be difficult for busy professionals. If medical costs are eating up a significant percent of your budget, improve employee wellness with onsite medical care. Big companies might set up a clinic on the premises so employees can make fast visits during work hours. According to the AFLAC Workforces report, 62 percent of employers saw a drop in health care costs after adding an onsite medical clinic. If you don't have room in the budget, bring in a doctor to see workers once a month, or offer discounts on video consultations with a doctor-on-demand service.
Don't Forget Mental Health
Mental health is a crucial part of employee wellness. Intense stress, whether it's personal or work-related, can lead to depression, poor concentration and health problems. Talk to your workers to find out the most stressful parts of their jobs, and take steps to streamline operations. If workers feel overwhelmed by paperwork and phone calls, for example, consider bringing in an administrative assistant to lighten the load. If they report that problems at home make it difficult to perform well at the office, encourage a healthier work-life balance with flex time or telecommuting options. If possible, choose an insurance plan that covers counseling sessions, and encourage workers to take advantage. In the process, you can let employees know that you care about their well-being in and out of the office.
Create a Culture of Wellness
Employee wellness programs are useless if no one takes advantage of them. If your initiatives have low participation rates, examine your corporate culture. A culture intensely focused on productivity, speed or performance can make workers hesitant to take part in wellness initiatives for fear of being left behind or looking incapable. If that's the case, a cultural shift is in order. Ask managers and executives to model healthy behaviors and participate visibly in your health-related programs; this alone can make workers feel more comfortable. Require employees to take their allotted vacation days, and reassure them that they won't lose ground by doing so.
Employee wellness is an ongoing process for human resources departments. With the right incentives and benefits, you can increase participation in wellness initiatives, improve overall health and cut costs in the process.
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