Workplace unwellness in the US causes an estimated $2.2T annual loss in workforce productivity. To understand the magnitude of that loss, let’s put it another way: workplace unwellness in the US accounts for 12% of annual GDP loss.
There are several driving and contributing factors to this loss, including chronic conditions, stress, and illness, to name a few. In aggregate, these one-off employee issues can lead to other issues at work, like disengagement and lowered productivity, which, as they compound, account for a gross loss of productivity for and engagement with a company. A lack of focus on wellness in the workplace puts the burden on employees, and as a result, unnecessary burden on the healthcare system.
Stemming from these unwellness issues in the workplace and the loss of productivity they cause, employers have turned to corporate wellness programs. With a properly implemented program, employers can encourage healthy behaviors which can lead to long-term reductions in healthcare costs and overall unwellness. For many employees, wellness programs can incentivize healthy behavior, signalling a culture of holistic wellbeing in the workplace. These programs can engage employees in health, leading to more productivity during work and lowered levels of stress.
Implementing a Successful Corporate Wellness Program
In order to create a wellness program that is effective for your employee population, employers must focus on the specific needs of their organization. For instance, if your company has very few smokers, a smoking cessation program will not be the most relevant, and you may find a low rate of participation. However, if many of your employees are struggling with obesity or chronic conditions, a physical activity challenge could encourage healthy behaviors to mitigate or better manage these health issues.
Focusing on program elements most important to your community, like physical activity, stress, or nutrition, can help encourage wider employee participation.
Building an Employee Connection
Beyond initial participation, employees must also be engaged to see success as a result of a wellness program. By connecting with employees via home health devices, wearables, and apps, employers are able to continuously, regularly connect with their employees to encourage healthy behavior and adherence to a program. Furthermore, these devices can more reliably track activity and other health data in the background, which allows a person to participate in improving their health without having to take extra steps to track it. This monitoring allows for a more seamless, burden-free connection between employees and the wellness program.
In addition to building relevant programs for a given population, and offering a seamless connection to them via wearables and apps, many employers offer incentives to employee participation in a corporate wellness program. Today, nearly 90% of employers offer incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs, in order to improve health, lower costs, and increase productivity. This could include financial compensation, rewards, or lowered health insurance costs — incentives which can further encourage employee participation in a program.
Ultimately, a corporate wellness program is for the benefit of both employees and their employer — when a person is healthier, they are happier and are able to be more productive at work. Down the line, this can lead to further benefits, like lowered costs and improved business results. As employers continue to be challenged to offer a positive workplace environment and continue to create a successful business, corporate wellness programs can help engage employees and lower costs.