Employee Wellness programs have grown in popularity, significantly, over the past few years. With the cost of healthcare still skyrocketing, U.S companies can use wellness programs to chip away at their health care costs with the many tax incentives and grants available under the Federal Health Care Legislation. The Affordable Care Act incentivized wellness programs for companies, which is estimated to be worth nearly $6 billion. Now, more than two-thirds of U.S.-based employers offer some type of wellness program. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that, in 2015, 80% of employers offered preventative wellness services and information. The popularity increases with larger workforces. “Some reports suggest up to 92% of employers with over 200 employees offer a wellness program,” according to Forbes.com.
This is good, right?
Some may question how effective these programs really are and if they are worth the cost. However, government incentives or not, healthy employees cost you less. While these programs were once viewed as a nice extra, they are now being implemented as a strategically imperative investment designed with your employee’s social, mental, and physical health in mind.
Employee Wellness Programs allow the employer to offer premium discounts, gym memberships, cash rewards and other incentives to participate. For example, popular programs include incentives to stop smoking, weight loss programs, preventive health screenings and diabetes management programs.

The great thing about wellness programs is there are many ways to go about implementing them into your employee’s health care plans. They can be tailored and made relevant to your staff. Many companies choose to offer preventative services like biometric screenings and health fairs. Others focus on specific issues like physical activity or smoking cessations.

 

According to the Harvard Business Review, “since 1995, the percentage of Johnson & Johnson employees who smoke has dropped by more than two-thirds. The number who have high blood pressure or who are physically inactive also has declined—by more than half.” Johnson & Johnson chose to modify their wellness programs to aid employees with issues they were struggling with.

And it paid off too.

 

 

 “J&J’s leaders estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.”
Some people worry that wellness programs only reward people who are already healthy. However, many wellness programs are now addressing things like emotional and mental well-being. Even financial well-being. And, as research continues to support the importance of a holistically healthy lifestyle, wellness programs have expanded to address health on multiple levels.
These programs can also do a lot to increase your company culture. HR reps can work with each employee to learn what they value on their journey to better health. This also means finding wellness activities that your employees want to be a part of. Not only will this improve the communication between HR and employees, but you will be working towards a happier staff, which can lead to a thriving company.
What can you take away from all this?
Your employees are worth the investment. You and your leadership team should be thinking about the importance of employee wellness and implement your discussions into action.
 It will pay off in the end.
Kailey Brennan, VertiSource HR Blogger®