With the unemployment rate below 4%, many employers are looking for ways to increase employee retention and improve recruiting efforts. The incorporation of wellness programs is one trend employers are using to achieve these goals.
According to a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the majority of employers who increased their benefit offerings in the past 12 months, did so in response to employee feedback and a need to improve employee retention. Benefits are important to employees and wellness programs are steadily becoming an expected and important benefit to offer.
There are a lot of advantages to having an employee wellness program. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes that a well-designed wellness program will promote better health, reduce injury and exposure to hazardous substances, and positively influence culture. While these are great benefits, we all know that wellness programs are tough to implement without executive and management support. How can you get their buy-in? By focusing on the value and return on investment of implementing a wellness program.
Below are some common benefits employers reap from having an effective wellness program.
Most companies are looking for ways to spend less money on employee health insurance without having to sacrifice the quality of health benefits. The most common ways wellness programs help achieve this goal are the following:
- Reduced premiums offered by insurance carriers for employers who offer wellness programs and/or employees who participate in wellness programs.
- Since premiums have been on the rise, many employers are offering high deductible plans which can offer significant savings on premiums. However, to minimize employees’ risk for out-of-pocket medical expenses, many employers have started offering a partial deductible contribution for their employees who are on high deductible plans (the theory is that the money saved in premiums will be more than the money spent towards deductibles). Since wellness programs often improve the health of employees, companies can expect to see fewer medical costs for employees who participate in wellness programs.
Fewer Sick Days Can Improve Retention
Wellness programs can improve employee health, which means fewer sick days and therefore more productivity. However, a less obvious benefit to employees taking fewer sick days is how that ties into employee retention. When an employee is absent, typically another employee must cover his/her work. That adds extra pressure and stress to staff, which can hurt retention (not to mention the cost to pay that employee overtime if he/she is non-exempt and racks up additional hours covering for an absent employee). Incorporating an unused sick day component into your wellness plan can add an additional mechanism to improve retention.
Employee Recruitment and Retention
By 2020, Millennials will account for approximately 50% of the workforce. Millennials want benefits packages that meet their expectations and wellness programs are an important benefit for many Millennials. According to Forbes, 58% of Millennials consider a company’s wellness program as important or extremely important in deciding where they will accept a job. So, if you want to recruit Millennials and compete for their talents, you need a competitive benefits package inclusive of a wellness program.
In addition to the interest Millennials have in wellness programs, more and more employees are reporting that, regardless of their generation, they are more likely to stay with an employer who has a robust benefits package, including a wellness program. So, whether your goal is to improve retention, recruitment, or both, a wellness program can be an advantage in reaching those goals.
Increased Collaboration and Employee Morale
Wellness programs can foster collaboration and group engagement in unexpected ways. Whether staff start walking together during lunch, supporting one another in their weight loss challenges, or decreasing the unhealthy snacks that so frequently clutter every break room, the awareness and promotion of a wellness program can have great benefits on employee morale. Employees who encourage each other to be healthier are more likely to encourage one another in other areas as well, such as with work tasks.
If your company does not have a wellness program, perhaps it is time to get one! We all know wellness programs can lead to healthier employees. We also know healthy employees are more productive. Now we also know there are many more reasons to support our employees and encourage their wellness!
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