#HR Trends and Insights

How to create the wellness program your employees want

June 20, 2023

What is a wellness plan, and what does it include? How can implementing a wellness plan affect your business’s bottom line, and how does it help you be competitive and attract top talent? Let’s look at that and more as we dive into developing a wellness program that’s right for your company.

Simply put, a wellness program is any program or collection of programs intended to improve and promote health and fitness that’s usually offered through the workplace.

The benefits of adding a wellness program 

Developing an effective wellness program can help you reduce absenteeism, improve employee productivity, and save you money.

Prevention as medicine

One way a wellness program can save your company money is by structuring your programs with preventative measures to help avoid illness while improving and maintaining the general health of the employees. You can do this through education, communication, and even by creating and maintaining a supportive work environment.

These prevention programs could include smoking cessation, weight loss, stress management, company gym/workout rooms, recreational programs such as company-sponsored sports teams, medical screenings, and immunization/flu shots.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates incentives and builds on existing wellness program policies to promote employer wellness programs and encourage opportunities to support healthier workplaces.

The steps to creating your program

  1. Start with the basics – Wellness as a culture

A healthy employee is a productive employee. In a study conducted by researchers at BYU, employees with unhealthy diets were 66 percent more likely to report having a loss in productivity.

In that same study, those who had difficulty exercising were 96 percent more likely to report having a loss in productivity.

Building wellness into your company culture is a must if you wish to implement a successful program. Begin by committing to having wellness factor into every act and decision the company makes. You’ll need the backing of the leaders of the company when it trickles down into every aspect of the business, making the company environment healthier.

2.    Determine what your employees want

If you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, it won’t work for you or your employees. Make sure you pick the benefits and programs your employees and prospects want. Work with human resources to create a simple questionnaire to gather information.

  • What do your employees need?
  • What are they struggling with?
  • What are some topics in health and fitness that they want to learn more about?

Doing this will help you understand their challenges and provide an excellent foundation to start working on your plan.

3. Collect data

Understanding the history of your claim costs, employee demographics, and attendance records can help you predict what actions will best serve your employees and company.

4.    Choose better over perfect

There is no right or wrong way to build a wellness program. Don’t worry about trying to implement the perfect program initially. Start with the easiest things to tackle. Replace the items in the vending machines with healthier items, or partner with a local gym to give employees a membership discount. Whatever you decide, check in with all stakeholders often to see how your ideas are going in practice.

Think about how you’ll continue to motivate your employees once the plan is in place and how you’ll communicate changes and additions. Do you have a company newsletter or information hub where you can add bulletins and fitness challenges?

5. Be flexible

These days, flexibility is the key to employees achieving a better work-life balance. Flexible or hybrid scheduling, flexible benefits, and the ability to change your program to meet the needs of your employees are critical.

Consider adding Lifestyle Spending Accounts, one of the most flexible programs, to your benefits package.  Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) make it easier for employees to participate in wellness programs and make choices toward living healthier and happier lives. They can use an LSA to pay for classes, gym memberships, healthy groceries and restaurants, physical fitness equipment, and more.

6.    Define what success will look like

It’s tempting to only think of metrics such as the number of sick days decreasing while monitoring if productivity is improving. But you will need to go beyond those standard metrics to determine success.

Track metrics such as the participation rates of the various activities and challenges. Conduct anonymous surveys to measure employee satisfaction in the company and tweak as you go. And as always, when in doubt, ask an expert!

How Edenred can help

We would love to help you design and implement a wellness program designed around your goals. Promoting a healthy lifestyle for your employees in and out of the office is not only good for them; it’s good for your bottom line. Schedule a meeting with us today to begin discussing options for your office.

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