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Do Workplace Wellness Programs Really Work?

Workplace Wellness Programs

Is a healthier workforce more productive? The answer is yes, according to three new peer-reviewed studies in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine.

The studies looked at how 45 companies’ stock prices fared after they won awards for their workplace wellness programs. The winners ended up outperforming the S&P 500 by between 7 percent and 16 percent per year. While researchers can’t definitively say that wellness programs contributed to increased stock prices, they believe that these results may make wellness programs more of a priority to CEOs.

Today 60 percent of US employers offer wellness programs, compared to 51 percent in 2008. For a small business, a healthier workforce may be more productive, miss work less and cost you less in insurance. Below are five ways to create a culture of wellness at your company:

  1. Offer Free Healthy Food

Replace vending machines with healthy food. Instead of chips and candy, offer carrots, celery sticks, pretzels and granola bars. Think about whether it’s worth investing in a weekly supermarket delivery of healthy snacks to your office, so that your employees stay focused on their work and not satiating hunger throughout the day.

  1. Outsource Your Wellness Program

Companies like TourDeFIT.com can help you put together a discounted exercise program for your business. These partners will work with you as your company grows and also provide a wellness concierge to build out your regimen.

  1. Provide Health-Risk Assessments

For between $5 and $15, you can hire a third-party vendor or tap your insurance company to conduct health risk assessments for your employees. The results can illuminate health risks and lead your workers to undertake preventative measures, resulting in higher productivity and lower health insurance costs. But be sure to communicate that these tests are voluntary and confidential.

  1. Give Out Pedometers

For just a few dollars each, you can provide employees with pedometers to encourage them to move more. Some insurance companies even offer these devices for free and competitions between employees can foster camaraderie in the workplace.

  1. Create a Flexible Working Policy

According to a recent study, 75 percent of companies surveyed offered flexible working policies. Those firms found that, after implementing their programs, profits increased and it positively impacted their firm’s reputation. Allowing workers more autonomy to accomplish their work, while retaining flexibility to maintain family responsibilities, may also help with employee retention.

Don’t forget to have your legal counsel review your wellness program before it’s implemented. If you’re dealing with employees’ health data, privacy issues may be a top concern and should be addressed before creating your offering. If you need tips on starting a wellness program at your company, check out these resources:

  • SHRM.org: The Society of Human Resources Management’s website has articles about different kinds of wellness programs.
  • CDC.gov: Their basic worksite health page and Work@Health program provides helpful tips and tools on workplace wellness.
  • WELCOA.org: Check out the “free resources” section for organizations that are members of the Wellness Council of America

Are you implementing a workplace wellness program at your company? Let us know by tweeting us @KabbageInc!