By Meisha Bochicchio
SEP 25, 2018
Health and wellness perks are a hot-button item in 2018, with over 90% of organizations offering at least one wellness initiative.
Though more and more organizations are beginning to understand and appreciate the long-term benefits of supporting employee health, most are barely scratching the tip of the wellness iceberg.
As wellness grows in popularity, more niche companies are popping up to help offer flexible and affordable health programs.
One study even suggested that every dollar invested in a wellness program produced $7 in health care savings.
And, studies also show that employees are willing to participate, with 70% expressing an interest in taking proactive steps to improve their health.
So, what benefits should your company consider to better support employee health and wellness?
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees struggling with personal life events. Marital problems, substance abuse issues, financial struggles, etc. would all fall under this category. As much as we’d like to think our employees separate their work and personal lives, personal struggles can have a major impact on work performance. By giving employees the support they need to work through personal struggles, employers will build retention and loyalty over time. See more ways to support employee mental health through benefits.
A relatively new health care option that is growing in popularity, telemedicine allows enrolled participants to seek medical advice without visiting a physical office. This form of service is particularly helpful for follow-up visits, the management of chronic illnesses, medication management and several other clinical services that are easy to treat via a remote connection. Telemedicine allows employees to spend less time away from work and save on travel time and expenses while also enjoying a much more affordable health care alternative versus traditional office visits.
Weight management can be a touchy subject and a topic that many employers are hesitant to approach. However, the CDC estimates that over two-thirds of Americans are overweight, which costs US companies $13 billion each year! Adding in a free, voluntary weight-management program into your overall benefits offerings and educating employees about this perk can help employees regain control of their health at their own pace and on their own time. You can also support these efforts by stocking plenty of healthy snack and beverage alternatives around the office and by offering traditional desk alternatives (discussed below).
Penalties for smoking are now a common punishment for employees that indulge in cigarettes and understandably so as smokers are more likely to suffer from a full flew of health issues. However, pairing your smoking penalty with a free smoking cessation program is a great way to help employees make better health decisions. Look for a holistic program that preps and supports smokers for the before, during and after quitting process.
Tip: Employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for every employee who quits smoking!
Could you put a dollar amount on what employee stress costs employers in the United States annually? Try $500 billion. Lost productivity, sick days – stress can take a lot out of your workforce. But what if you could offer more support for stress awareness and prevention? Well, you can. Stress reduction programs are a growing benefit trend that can train employees to better prepare for and cope with stress.
A creative and effective way to more actively engage employees in health and wellness perks is to incorporate health coaching into your benefits plan. Available programs vary greatly but all support healthy eating habits, assist with lifestyle changes, advise on exercise plans and more to create individualized plans to help employees set and achieve health goals.
Hosting on-site health and wellness events is a great way to increase participation in programs. This might include a flu shot drive, health risk assessments, or free health screenings, which support preventative health measures, or a blood donation drive, which is a great way to give back to the local community. These cost-effective events are a fast and convenient way to keep your employees healthy.
As of 2016, there were over 57 million health club and gym memberships in the United States. That’s a lot of sweat! Help your employees achieve their fitness goals by supplementing the cost of this monthly budget item via a gym stipend or partnership program. Or, if your building is spacious enough, build an on-site gym facility to make workouts fast and convenient.
It’s no secret that desk jobs are detrimental to our health. Mayo Clinic studies even found that people who sit for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity have a similar risk of dying posed by smoking and obesity. Weight gain, pore posture and back issues, weakened muscles – the list of negative side effects goes on and on. Help fight the sitting syndrome by offering employees options! Standing desks, treadmill desks, desk cycles – there are several creative options for employers looking to provide a comfortable and healthy work environment.