WELLNESS PROGRAMS: MAKING THE DECISION
“Work place wellness is an organized, employer-sponsored program that is designed to support employees (and sometimes their families) as they adopt and sustain behaviours that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organization’s bottom line” (Berry, 2010). This definition covers the relevant components of all-inclusive wellness programs. Companies want to gain benefits of wellness programs while avoiding problems.
Higher Productivity results in an elevated level of output by employees taking advantage of wellness programs. Higher employee morale and loyalty build employee trust in management and create a positive work environment where employees are more likely to stay with the company. Lower health care costs improve the company’s bottom line and encourage management to value wellness programs.
PROBLEMS OF WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Management disinterest negatively affects the success of corporate wellness programs. Measurement of wellness programs presents a challenge to corporations and may make or break the success of the program. Low employee participation levels present a challenge to successful programs.
1. Establish leadership and obtain support from the “top”. 2. Develop support from everyone.
3. Acknowledge current, informal activities and collect baseline data. 4. Identify the key needs and expectations of the workplace. 5. Develop a detailed plan.
6. Put the plan into action.
7. Monitor, evaluate, and maintain the program.
What is a corporate wellness program? What are the benefits? What are the inherent problems and possible solutions for effective programs? Finally, how can an effective wellness program be implemented? All of these questions are relevant to a company considering the establishment of a wellness program. Companies want to reap the benefits of higher productivity, higher employee morale and loyalty, and lower health costs. Achieving these benefits involves overcoming management disinterest, measurement difficulties, and low participation rates.
The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund state that “workplace wellness programs provide the access, opportunity, support, and encouragement needed for workers to actively participate in improving their health” (2004). Michael Mulvihill defines corporate wellness as “a set of organized activities and . . . interventions, offered through corporations/worksites, managed care organizations, and government/community agencies, whose primary purposes are to provide health education, identify modifiable health risks, and influence health behaviour changes” (2003). While these definitions are adequate, Berry, in the Harvard Business Review, defines wellness programs this way:
Work place wellness is an organized, employer-sponsored program that is designed to support employees (and sometimes their families) as they adopt and sustain behaviours that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organization’s bottom line. (2010)
Successful wellness programs offer companies several benefits: Higher Productivity results in an elevated level of output by employees taking advantage of wellness programs. Corporate wellness plans increase productivity levels by decreasing stress and depression through employee-oriented programs Decreased stress boosts employee focus resulting in increased productivity. A rise in energy levels may develop due to weight loss and healthy eating. “A 2009 study . . . of absenteeism and presenteeism among 50,000 workers at 10 employers showed that lost productivity costs are 2.3 times higher than medical and pharmacy costs” (Berry, 2010). Presenteeism occurs when employees are working but productivity is low because of wellness issues. Wellness issues include...
Cited: Berry, L. L. (2010, December). What 's the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs? Harvard Business Review , 88 (12), pp. 104-112.
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Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2009, February 2). Workplace Health and Wellness Program-Getting Started. Retrieved November 3, 2011 from CCOHS:http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/pyschosicial/wellness-programs.html
Employee Wellness Programs. (2007). Employee Wellness Programs Simplified. Retrieved October 27, 2011 from http://www.employee-wellness-programs.com/employee-wellness-programs.html
Infinite Wellness Solutions. (2006). Corporate Wellness Programs. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from http://www.infinitewellnesssolutions.com/corporate-wellness-programs.html
Mulvihill, M. (2003, 4th Quarter). The Definition and Core Practices of Wellness. Journal of Employee Assistance , 13-15.
North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund. (2004). Workplace Wellness Toolkit. Retrieved October 27, 2011 from fittogether: www.fittogethernc.org/workplacewellnessabout.aspx#top
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