Companies of all sizes are beginning to see that what's good for their employees is good for them. Employer-driven health and wellness (H/W) initiatives are here to stay and are on the "critical list" as a component of a well-rounded culture of engagement.
Met Life's annual study of employee benefit trends shows that more companies are jumping on the health-and-wellness bandwagon and explains why:
- Companies report active participation by 70% or more of their workforce.
- 48% report health-and-wellness programs are effective at improving productivity.
As a vital component of employee engagement, H/W/ drives increased productivity. An investment in a H/W program demonstrates true holistic caring for employees, so they can avoid the negative impact of poor health and enjoy their personal and professional life. It conveys a desire to protect their financial well being by staving off over-the-top health care costs.
In addition, there's a real financial incentive for companies and their workforces to embrace H/W as insurers increasingly move to a sliding scale aligned with the health of the organization. Better-than-average health is recognized and compensated with reduced cost of care and lower insurance premiums--a reason for employers and workforces to team up to create a culture of H/W. This teamwork results in a more engaged culture as well.
H/W Hits Homeruns
- Lower absenteeism due to illness;
- Healthy, happy employees are more productive;
- Lower employee health insurance premiums without shifting costs to the workforce;
- Build trust that the company authentically cares about employees;
- Build community among workforce.
- Lower insurance premiums;
- Financial rewards/incentives for being healthy;
- Easier to attain/maintain healthy lifestyle;
- Camaraderie and support from workplace community;
- Fuller, more enjoyable lifestyle.
Create a culture vs. one-off program
Like any culture, a healthy culture emanates from the top. That means management not only endorses H/W, but also participates. Walking the walk is how a movement is viewed as a true strategy, becoming an integral part of the culture and gaining mass participation. Movement, healthy eating and other habits that promote a better lifestyle are an ongoing commitment, not a short-term program.
A few thoughts to keep in mind as you prepare to introduce your company's commitment to H/W:
- Establish a cross-functional, cross-level team to "manage" programming. Tap people who have demonstrated an interest in H/W. Because they typically are more educated and passionate about one or more key areas, they will embrace their new role as H/W well-being ambassadors/champions.
- Create employee focus groups to determine what information/activities they would find helpful. (Annual focus groups are helpful for monitoring soft data-based progress and to refresh programing.)
- Help the team establish initial goals that are meaningful to your workforce as well as your company and determine how to track progress. Hard data could include % participation, % decrease in illness-based absenteeism and reduced insurance rates, while soft data could focus on improved morale, improved sense of community and fun.
- Create a well-rounded marketing and communications plan for the H/W kick-off and its continued adoption. Touch all five senses.
Program diverse needs
Perhaps the most important point to consider from the start is that your workforce spans many levels of H/W knowledge and practice in terms of activity, nutrition, balanced lifestyle, and stress, its causes and negative medical implications. Focus groups can help benchmark levels to help you keep programming fresh, diverse and appealing to the complex workforce.
Fun is always helpful, but not everyone has the same concept of fun. So try new things. Start at basic levels and evolve education to increasingly sophisticated levels. People will jump in when they think they will learn something new, gain a real benefit or have a good time.
Here are plenty of low-cost big ideas to consider:
- Health fairs 1-2 times/year;
- Speakers (authors promoting books, health clubs, etc., often do not charge);
- Healthy options in vending machines/cafeteria;
- "Walk 'n' Talk" meetings;
- Promote farmers' markets close to your office and employees' homes;
- Subsidize entry fees for fundraising runs/walks (a community relations bonus);
- Bike racks/locks for those who ride to work;
- Create a team to play on a city league or if your organization is large enough, create your own league;
- Hold team/individual contests/games;
- Partner with a health and fitness center that provides reduced rates to your employees; and
- Provide tangible H/W-related products as promotional tools, incentives, rewards.
You'd be hard-pressed to come up with an easier, more cost-effective way to demonstrate care for employees, spawn engagement and reap productivity and financial rewards for your company and your workforce. What are you doing to help your employees grow into a healthy lifestyle? If you need more ideas, we've got them to help companies create their H/W environments.
For more information on this and other engagement-related topics, please visit my Website
You can also download my chapter on employee engagement in The Business Expert Guide to Small Business Success.
Bio: Hillary Feder
Hillary Feder is a leader in employee engagement. Her core belief is that people are a company's greatest asset. Using a personalized approach and collaborative style, Hillary focuses on creating corporate cultures that make the people that matter most, feel like they matter.
As a leading-edge advocate, companies value Hillary's insight into how to inspire employees to greater levels of enthusiasm. Engaged employees are enthusiastic, contribute ideas, are retained longer, and become valued ambassadors of the company. The net results of employee engagement are increased productivity, lower client acquisition costs and higher profit margins.
Hillary has been providing strategic process, programs and product to CEOs and management teams for 22 years. Clients are organizations that believe that valued employees are productive employees.
Hillary also is a contributing author in the national book release of The Business Expert Guide to Small Business Success. As a leader in employee engagement, her chapter focuses on employees as a company's X Factor to Success, by providing insight into the "hows" behind creating a people-centric workplace.
Education: B.S. degree from Boston University School of Management; Strategies for Business Vision and Growth, Center for Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas; MAS, industry certification from the Promotional Professionals Association.
Hillary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952.933.8365.
© Copyright 2011 Hillarys, Hillarys Gifts, All Rights Reserved.