5 Reasons Why You Should Have a Wellness Program in Your Company

More and more companies are waking up to the realization that having happy, healthy employees is essential for their bottom line. And this is where wellness comes in.

Workplace wellness programs have significantly evolved over the years. Previously, companies considered workplace ‘wellness’ as prevention of workplace accidents and work-related illnesses. As the emphasis on health grew, companies came up with initiatives such as gym facilities, initially as perks for senior management. Gradually these health benefits were extended to other employees, with companies investing in swimming pools, on sight health clinics and stress management programs.

Today, wellness has advanced from physical health to encompass happiness, productivity, and overall employee well-being. Other than improving employee health, these programs also address mental, financial, social and emotional health. Some of the wellness programs companies have created include onsite gyms and health clinics, financial and psychological health seminars, cooking classes, mental health off days, extended maternity and paternity leave, mentorship, sports and family fun days.

The benefits are employees who feel more human, valued, connected, productive, and who enjoy their work. Employers recognize that employee wellness has a direct impact on the bottom line, and most have come up with various such programs.

If you are an employer who is still on the fence about workplace wellness programs, here are five reasons why you should be jumping on board:

1.Reduced Heath Care Costs

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Forward-thinking companies have recognized that preventing employee illness is much cheaper than treating the actual disease.  

Employees with higher health risk factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, or are overweight cost more to insure. Having programs that can help them make lifestyle changes and improve their quality of life can significantly reduce health care costs.

Adopting healthy behaviors will lead to reduced health risks, which in turn will lower the risk of chronic illnesses. Subsequently, this will result in lower health care costs for the company

Case in point: Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has a wellness program that includes physical activity, nutrition, lifestyle management, and coaching programs. It also conducts regular health assessments and screenings, which help to identify areas of risk in advance.

A study was done to compare medical costs among Johnson & Johnson employees against sixteen other companies. Carried out over six years, the study found that Johnson & Johnson experienced a 3.7% lower annual growth in medical costs compared to the other companies. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson saved $3.92 for every $1 spent on wellness programs, as a result of reduced medical costs.

2. Increased Productivity

Having a healthy workforce increases productivity. A company will also reduce the number of employees who are at work but not doing anything productive.  For instance, an employee who is stressed, depressed, suffering from a backache, or even emotional strain cannot perform at par.

Having a wellness program that addresses employee’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing can contribute significantly to the success of your company. This is because your employees will be motivated and engaged during the period that they are at work.

Case in point: Microsoft

Microsoft has one of the most generous wellness programs around. The company offers its employees resources for weight management, stress management and counseling, healthy dining options, health screenings and gym memberships. You can also take a Zumba class, play a ball game or attend a smoking cessation class among many other benefits. It is evident from the numbers that these wellness programs do pay.

3. Higher Employee Satisfaction & Increased Morale

Employees working in companies that have wellness programs report higher satisfaction and increased morale. This is because they feel that the company cares for them and their wellbeing. Such programs also enhance communication, teamwork, and empathy between coworkers, which makes the workplace a good place to be.

When employees feel satisfied with the physical, social, and emotional aspects of their lives, they are likely to work harder. This improves productivity, customer service, problem-solving, and overall performance at work.

If you don’t see the benefit of increasing employee morale, think of the flip side. Employees with low morale will ignore or be rude to your customers, sabotage your product or service, and likely ‘transmit’ this apathy to their colleagues.

Case in point: Safaricom

Safaricom, one of Kenya’s most prominent companies, has a holistic wellness program called ‘Thrive’ aimed at addressing the body, mind, soul, and heart of employees. This program addresses issues of physical fitness, nutrition, sleep, purpose, mental health, belonging, and connections. The bottom line is to ensure that employees are happy, healthy and productive. An employee engagement survey conducted in 2018 to measure the morale of employees found that engagement was at an all-time high of 95.

4. Improved Employee Recruitment and Retention

There is a reason why most young people want to work for great companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. In Kenya, we can think of companies such as Safaricom and Amref Health. Other than attractive pay and career growth prospects, these companies have something else in common. They have wellness programs that put the health and happiness of employees at the front and center. They have built a company culture that shows employees that they are valued.

Having a wellness program that does this can help you retain some of your best talent, as satisfied employees will have little reason to leave. Safaricom, for example, recorded an employee turnover of only 5% in 2018, the lowest in five years.

 Having a great wellness program can also help your company to attract great talent. If a potential employee has two competing offers, he is likely to go with the company that has an excellent wellness package and a positive workplace culture.

5. Reduced Absenteeism

Wellness programs can improve employee health and habits, which reduces instances of absenteeism resulting from sickness, burnout, stress, and related issues. Absenteeism affects productivity in different ways. An absent employee is unlikely to finish his projects on time, which affects other departments as well. If he is working on a crucial part of a project, his colleagues might not be able to complete their part. These delays might hurt delivery projections and the company might incur fines or losses. By extension, this will damage the company's reputation.

Habitual absenteeism can also cause resentment in the workplace as remaining employees will be forced to pick up the slack while their colleague is away. This not only hurts productivity, but it lowers employee morale.

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