Wellness programs not only reduce company health care costs but also reduce the cost of health insurance. Employees that feel they are being taken care of by the company, feel a loyalty towards the company, this not only cuts down on the turnover rates but also increases productivity. Also, having healthy employees will increase the quality and amount of work being done. Sick leave and absences are reduced significantly when employers provide wellness programs for their employees, and overall the employees are generally much happier when they feel better.
A study released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina stated that companies willing to make small investments in wellness initiatives such as paid time off for doctors visits and health screenings in the workplace see long-term results. According to this study, companies that offer wellness program see 25 to 30 percent decrease in medical costs and absenteeism in about 3 to 4 years.
Some years ago I had the opportunity to work for a company that put a lot of focus on employee wellness. Not only was there a gym in the building, there were also doctors, counselors and even massage therapists. There was relaxing art all over the building and each department had their own quiet room which was a darkened room that contained separate areas with recliners so employees could use their break time relaxing in comfort and peacefulness. The company was constantly providing employees with information to help them quit smoking, they offered flu shots each year, and had their own ergonomics department. If anybody felt uncomfortable at their desk someone would come and provide you with better lighting, a new more comfortable chair, a footrest, anything you needed to make your work space more comfortable. With all of this extra stuff, you would think that Occupational Health and Safety medical benefits might cost extra. I actually got money back from my insurance because the company offered each employee a certain amount of money to put towards their insurance and since I only had to pay for myself, I had about $5 left each week that ended up being extra money put into my paycheck.
Now not all companies have to go above and beyond to provide wellness programs for their employees. Even just giving employees the opportunity to take a walk outside to get some exercise and some peace of mind can be helpful.
After taking a look at safety and personal injuries in 1995, UPS found that their most common issues dealt with back, shoulder and knee injuries. In response to this information, UPS established safety committees at 2,900 of their facilities across the country. The committees are run by employees at each location who organize activities and provide monthly health topics such as You Can Control Your Blood Pressure. Since beginning this program, UPS has seen a decrease in absences, an increase in productivity and morale, and a 60% reduction in on-the-job injuries.
Sue Stock. (21 October). Study says wellness programs pay off: Blue Cross: Measures reduce employers' costs. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Dateline database. (Document ID: 1579663581).
Sarah Bloom. (2008). Employee Wellness Programs. Professional Safety, 53(8), 41-42. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1599441841).