During the early 1990s, I implemented an employee wellness program in North Carolina and saw the dramatic positive effect it had on employees’ diets, exercise, following up on medical screenings and listening to their doctors’ advice. Today, there is growing evidence that the benefits of employee wellness programs can be dramatically increased by also focusing on employee wellbeing.
What is the difference between wellness and wellbeing? Wellness programs promote healthy diets and exercise, weight control, smoking cessation and proper ergonomics. More recently, they reward employees for completing health questionnaires, participating in health screenings, and lowering their at-risk indicators, such as high blood pressure. Sometimes reduced health care premiums are offered as a reward. Wellbeing programs pick up from there and focus on the psychological health of employees at work, employee engagement practices, green building designs, and flexible work arrangements. These programs usually offer employees more control over their health, work, and work-life balance, while helping employees remain focused on driving company strategies and goals!
Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics has produced a new report on the benefits of employee wellbeing programs, which can be found at http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/whats-good-for-people-moving-from-wellness-to-well-being/98884. It is an impactful, quick read, and I highly recommend it. She reports that investing in employee wellbeing can lead to increases in productivity and job performance, along with decreases in absenteeism, presentism (present physically at work but not present mentally or emotionally) and significant reductions in medical costs (60%) and prescription drug costs (66%).
Yet only 11% of companies invest in employee wellbeing.
Implementing an employee wellbeing program requires close collaboration between human resources, finance, real estate and facilities, as well as strong support from top management. Employee wellbeing programs are most effective when employees are involved in their design. With the “war for talent” reigniting in the hot U.S. and Asian economies, it is worth implementing not only employee wellness, but also employee wellbeing.
Does your company have an employee wellbeing program in place? How is it working out? Are you considering one? Join the discussion.
Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, team effectiveness, mergers and acquisitions, and other strategic initiatives. Please e-mail Victor at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Victor’s website at www.victorhrconsultant.com