Employee Morale Boosters: Simpler Than You Might Imagine
Up to 70% of your health care spending is as a result of five unhealthy lifestyle choices, including poor diet; alcohol and drug abuse; stress; inactivity; and tobacco use. However, there is good news as these are changeable choices and behaviors. These changes can occur through a work-site program designed to motivate employees toward the positive changes that can reduce cost, increase productivity and frankly save lives.
A wellness program is a cost-effective way for a company to take action to prevent the higher risk health problems of their employees. Combining the preventative measures of a wellness program with pre-existing health care coverage can reduce the number of health care claims and possibly reduce the need for employees to be on multiple medications. Wellness programs require voluntary participation for optimal results, so your company will need to do some research before investing in the program.
Here are some topics to consider in creating a successful wellness program:
Office Environment / Work Environment
- Are your employees sedentary?
- Are there common work-related injuries, such as repetitive motion injuries?
- How safe is your office?
- Are there serious health hazards?
Remember that a wellness program is about prevention, and this includes prevention of work-related injuries and lifestyle-related health problems. Therefore, it is far cheaper to spend money on updating your office building and making each workstation ergonomic than it is to pay higher premiums to your worker’s compensation insurance company.
- What is the age range of your employees?
- What is the overall health of your employees?
- Do your employees have any common risk factors, such as smoking or obesity?
- Are your employees physically capable of exercise?
Creating anonymous surveys for your employees to complete will also be useful when trying to decide what to include in your wellness program. Employees can help with brainstorming ideas by filling out what type of programs they would prefer on the survey.
As your company is starting out in the creation of a wellness program, you may want to select a committee of employees who are dedicated to health and safety awareness. They will be instrumental in disbursing information and in encouraging fellow employees to participate. Your committee can also establish certain short-term and long-term goals that will help measure the program’s overall success.
Here are some cost effective suggestions for getting started:
Being the Example
- Ensure that company leadership serves as an example with concern to health, safety and wellness
- Have managers and supervisors publicly promote the program
- Disperse articles related to the different health and fitness concerns of your employees
- Hand out low-cost pedometers to employees and encourage them to take walks on breaks
- Start fitness contests to see who can improve their health the most
Make Changes to Your Work Environment
- Make sure workstations and seating areas are ergonomic
- Offer healthy food choices in the snack/break room and cafeteria
- Repair or replace hazardous equipment
- Conduct an audit to ensure your company meets all OSHA requirements
- Ensure healthy snack options in vendor machines
Take Advantage of What You Already Have
Your health insurance plan could offer free or low-cost wellness programs, including:
- Health screenings
- Smoke cessation programs
- First aid and CPR training
- Health awareness classes
Providing access to gym equipment can also encourage employees to improve their health. Depending on the size of your company and your budget, you can offer employees a discounted membership rate that will improve if more employees join the gym, which will motivate your employees to encourage their coworkers.Offering incentives to program participants, such as bonuses, time off, or merchandise, may be useful to get the program started and keep it going strong. It may also be helpful to seek help from professional wellness program coordinators/consultants.
Maintaining a wellness program is a proven method of reducing costs. A return on your initial investment into the program can be quantified by the following factors:
- Fewer health claims filed annually
- Improved workplace morale
- Decreased absenteeism
- Increased productivity
- Overall a happier staff
- Improved retention rates