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Are Employee Wellness Programs Necessary?

What if there were a program you could implement that reduced employee absenteeism, improved working relationships, attracted new employees and increased productivity?

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? While it may seem like the latest in a string of workplace buzzwords, employee wellness programs are an effective tool that benefits both the employee and the employer.
Workplace wellness has undergone a transformation in the last few decades. Initially, wellness at work focused more on the health and safety of employees on the job.
The push for occupational health and safety led to measures that included improved protections at work to provide hazard-free work environments.
Studies evaluating employee efficiency revealed something interesting: healthy employees are more successful. In recent years, employers began to realize that employees were more productive when they were fully engaged at work.
What Is Employee Wellness?
On average, people spend approximately 90,000 hours on the job. That means people spend more time working than any other activity during their lifetime.
With most of their time being spent at work, employees often struggle to find time to fit healthy activities into their schedule. Once they leave work, employees are occupied with family, community and other responsibilities which can leave little time to focus on their own wellness. Is it any wonder that employee wellness programs can have such a positive effect on the health of individuals?
According to the Government of Canada’s HR Council, employee wellness is “…holistic and takes into consideration the physical, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, emotional, occupational and mental health of employees.”
What Do Wellness Programs Look Like?
Employee wellness programs take on many forms. Some companies offer basic wellness by adding a walking trail around their complex or providing gym memberships to employees.
The most effective wellness programs, however, go a step further and integrate all aspects of employee health.
Need some ideas about what to include in your employee wellness program? We have some suggestions:
Healthy snacks in the break rooms Not every company can provide a full cafeteria to feed employees. However, offering healthy snack options can encourage smart eating during the day. Establishing a common area when employees can mingle during their lunch and break times provide opportunity to cultivate company-wide relationships.
Child care One of the largest stressors many employees have is planning for childcare. While you may not have the capacity to offer full-service day care on-site, would offering childcare assistance be a benefit to your employees? What about sick-child care, which would allow employees to arrange care for a child who may be unable to attend school because of a minor illness?
Helping employees develop their talents
By showing a real interest in your employees developing their skills and potential. This support can often lead to re-energized feeling of success and potential within the employee. This often results in improved productivity, attitude and a general “fire in the belly” to achieve.
Which employee wellness program is right for your company? The needs of your employees will differ from other companies. Ask your employees what their greatest wellness struggles may be, and then consider designing a program to meet their needs. Establish a trial period to evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of the program. Top-down participation can encourage others to get involved in the wellness program.
Having senior-level executives participate can send the message that employee wellness is a priority for the corporation.
What can you do to improve the employee wellness program at your company?
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea™. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.

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