Workplace Wellness Programs
As incentives become routine installments in companies’ hiring strategies, the lack of workplace wellness programs is quickly becoming a deal-breaker. A workplace wellness program doesn’t have to be a complicated overhaul of your current business model—all you need to do is provide your employees with healthy options to facilitate their personal health and happiness.
Having healthy employees boosts morale and productivity, and a healthy staff will boost your company’s reputation. Here are a few ways you can get your workplace wellness program off the ground.
Understanding Workplace Wellness Programs
Workplace wellness programs consist of policies and activities geared toward employee health and well-being. To this end, most workplace wellness programs include free, healthy food alternatives in the break room, a reduction in the number of unhealthy eating options, health seminars, and incentives for healthy weight loss or improved exercise routines. Because the betterment of your staff directly leads to the betterment of your company, giving your employees a chance to explore healthy and fulfilling dietary and exercise-based goals will never be a bad investment (not to mention, it can come with a reduction in absenteeism).
Furthermore, employee wellness programs are becoming increasingly common incentives in today’s hiring market. If your competition offers a discounted gym membership and vegetarian taco Tuesdays to their employees while you stock regular vending machines, you’re bound to lose some talent. Implementing a workplace wellness program isn’t just for your employees’ benefit—it’s an excellent way to increase your ROI and hiring rates.
Impact of the Affordable Care Act
While it may seem that the growing emphasis on workplace wellness is a recent trend, that’s because it is. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, it included provisions and incentives to encourage employers to add motivating and preventative health programs as part of their employee benefits. Since then, meaningful improvements have been seen in exercise rates, smoking, and weight control, all potentially leading towards a reduction in medical costs for all parties. For businesses with more than 50 employees, the basic guidelines put forth by the Affordable Care Act in order to be eligible for the incentives is that the instituted wellness program must be voluntary, non-discriminatory, and be “reasonably designed” to promote health or prevent disease.
The 2010’s not only brought on changes by the ACA, but the uprise of social media has brought on a demand for transparency in organizational culture. Whether or not you are motivated by the financial incentive of the ACA, your culture and brand messaging can also influence your decision in offering a workplace wellness program. For example, companies such as Clif Bar and REI are known for addressing wellness, prioritizing good health, and promoting active lifestyles as part of their brand values, which is thoroughly reflected in their employee benefit packages. Companies with innovative benefits that address healthy habits and outdoor regimens are often routinely recognized with “Best Place to Work” awards.
How You Can Contribute
Creating an entirely new program may seem like a daunting task, but a workplace wellness program is easy to orchestrate through employee involvement. Find a way to make the program interesting, both to you and your employees–you certainly don’t have to stop at celery sticks and reduced-fat ranch, so don’t be afraid to get creative! Here are some possible ideas:
- Add standing desks to your office space. These give employees some physical autonomy in how they work.
- Include non-dairy coffee creamer options. Soymilk, almond milk, and coconut milk are all healthy, affordable alternatives to cream or milk.
- Provide breakfast or lunch options. Breakfast is simultaneously the most important meal of the day and the most frequently skipped meal of the day, so having oatmeal and fruit for your employees will give them that much-needed boost.
- See if you can work out a discount with the local gym. Many small- or medium-scale gyms will be happy to give you a group discount or a discounted referral rate. Since more and more research shows that fitness and exercise can directly decrease stress, you’re not only helping your employees physically but mentally as well, leading to better work performance.
- Hold optional monthly or bi-monthly health seminars. Some possible topics include smoking (and quitting), diet, exercise, and the benefits of activity.
- Bring in a professional to host complimentary health screenings, assessments, and vaccinations at various times of the year.
Even just trying one or two of the activities on this list is a good start. Your employees will work harder and feel better, and their longevity with your company will increase as a result.
Workplace wellness programs can keep your benefits package competitive in the talent market, bring health-conscious culture to life, or take a step towards reducing absenteeism, lowering stress, and increasing productivity. While you’re thinking about your employees’ physical health, let us take care of your payroll’s health. Call Abacus Payroll today at (856) 667-6225 for a free consultation.