What Is A Company Wellness Program? And Why Are So Many Businesses Adopting It?

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An employee wellness program, also known as a wellbeing initiative, is a strategy implemented by an organization to maintain and improve the health and happiness of their employees. There are no set rules when it comes to what a wellbeing strategy should look like, but companies tend to focus on the development of their workers’ physical, emotional and financial health.

It’s no surprise that investment in the employee wellbeing space has rocketed over the last decade. Our modern ‘always on’ culture continues to blur the line between work and life, and there’s greater tendency to never switch off. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, more than 40% of all workers face high stress in their jobs, which significantly impacts their personal life, and millennials in 19 out of the 30 countries surveyed believe they won’t be happier than their parents.

It’s clear to see why employees would benefit from a corporate wellness initiative, but did you know that businesses benefit from them too? Paul Dreschler, Chairman of Bibby Line Group put it best when he said: “Good health IS good business”. There’s tangible evidence to suggest that employee well-being has a direct impact on the bottom line, so it’s no wonder $2 billion of venture capital has been invested in the wellness space in the last two years. But how exactly can organizations benefit from a wellness initiative?

Attract and retain top talent

Good talent is a precious commodity these days, with employment levels at a record high. Organizations that don’t treat wellness as merely a tick-box exercise, but a key aspect of their talent strategy, will have more success attracting and retaining top employees, and their bottom line will be better for it. People want to know their employers genuinely care about them and that their health and wellbeing is being taken seriously. Adopting a wellness strategy creates trust and loyalty with staff and can be the difference between your ideal candidate, or current employee, choosing you over a different company.

Less presenteeism and absenteeism

According to research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Survey, every year employees lose an average of 30.4 days of productive time due to sick days or ill-health-related underperformance at work. A well thought out wellbeing strategy is essential to combat these high levels of sickness. A healthier workforce is a more present workforce, and even small changes like ordering in fresh fruit for the office or encouraging workers to go for a walk on their lunch break can reduce levels of not only absenteeism but also presenteeism, ie when employees come into work even when they are ill.

Boost productivity

Healthy and happy employees are more creative workers, according to a study by the University of California. They found the improvement a wellness initiative made was dramatic, with the average worker improving productivity by an average of one full workday per month. The stress that comes with a lack of sleep, dealing with financial woes or not getting enough exercise, for instance, does nothing for an employee’s productivity or engagement with their work. Wellness initiatives are brought in to tackle any current stresses and to prevent future ones from materializing and have so far proved to be extremely effective.

 Can technology help?

How you utilize HR technology can make or break your wellness program. A modern online HR system, for instance, can give you up-to-date data on absences to identify any trends that can help shape your initiative. If your employees are taking more sick leave in December or January may be your program would benefit from looking at seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If your salespeople have considerably higher absence levels than everyone else, maybe their team is being overworked, and the problem is related to burnout.

What’s more, employees need to be fully on board with the initiative if it’s going to work. You may have the greatest plan in the world, but if nobody knows/cares about it, it won’t be successful. Using HR portals, however, is a great way to bring your initiative to life. Portals allow you to post news about your program, as well as share any supporting documents, handbooks and policy guides in one central location.

Adopting a wellness initiative is a win-win for organizations. Not only does it have a positive impact on the happiness and overall morale of your workforce, but it also benefits the bottom line. With this in mind, implementing a wellbeing strategy should be a no-brainer for employers, and it won’t be long before having one is any longer considered a perk, but instead an expectation.

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