Wellness Programs Your Employees May Enjoy
The following statistics reveal the need for employee wellness programs:
- Overweight employees cost employers $73.1 billion a year. Further, obese employees file twice as many workers' compensation claims and take more sick days a year than do non-obese workers (Northeast Business Group on Health).
- One in three Americans do not get enough sleep on a regular basis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- Absenteeism costs associated with hypertension, smoking, diabetes and obesity resulted in more than $2 billion per condition each year for employers (CDC).
While wellness programs are not automatic cures to those alarming statistics, they can move the needle. According to a study published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans, more than nine in 10 organizations that offered wellness programs said their efforts were either very successful or somewhat successful.
The need for wellness programs is obvious. But deciding which programs to offer is less categorical. Organizations' needs vary; there's no "one size fits all" approach. However, national statistics can reveal the most vulnerable areas, which employers may target.
Per the study published by the IFEBP, the top 10 health conditions costing employers the most money are:
- Arthritis/musculoskeletal concerns.
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- High-risk pregnancy.
Considering those 10 conditions, an effective wellness program may include health interventions for chronic diseases, smoking cessation, health education, health screenings and employee assistance.
Health interventions for chronic diseases. Workplace health interventions are a viable strategy for lowering chronic disease progression, absenteeism and health care costs. For example, a diabetes intervention may last two months and consist of seminars led by certified diabetes nurse educators. For those who are diabetic and overweight, the intervention may also consist of weekly lunch classes and a prescribed diet.
Smoking cessation. The American Lung Association states that employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for each employee who stops smoking. In addition, studies show that most smokers want to quit and make several attempts before being successful. A smoking cessation program is a great incentive for these employees.
Health education. Through health education, employees learn why they should evaluate their lifestyle choices and how to make improvements. For instance, the educational program may include books, videos, audio tapes and reports on maintaining a healthy weight.
Health screenings. Providing health screenings via an on-site clinic or by bringing a health care professional to the workplace enables employees to monitor their health without having to leave the worksite. Alternatively, screenings can be offered at a near-site clinic (close to the employee's workplace).
Employee assistance. Employee assistance programs are a confidential resource for employees suffering from mental health illnesses — such as depression, substance abuse, stress and anxiety — or personal setbacks, such as marital or financial problems.