Employee wellness refers to any workplace sponsored programs that hope to help employees live more healthily. Included in employee wellness could be very simple things, like having lunch break walks or adding a few lines in a company newsletter to remind people the company is offering flu shots. Alternately, some companies go much farther than this, employing consultants to help them do the most to increase employee health or having a range of easy to use and inexpensive services that might contribute to good health.
Although employee wellness is often thought of as being separate from offering health care benefits, any company interested in caring for the health of its employees must begin by offering said employees affordable health insurance with good preventative care, a full complement of physical care services and mental health services. People will get sick, with minor or major illnesses, and if part of the concern is to make certain employee sick time is reduced, the surest path is by making sure people have access to doctors or other allied health professionals when they need them. Employee wellness programs that do not begin with this have little likelihood of succeeding. Companies also need to look at the chances of the lowest paid workers being able to afford to enroll in health care and to meet copayment or coinsurance charges. If possible, preventative care services like yearly exams, immunizations, and testing should be free.
Once a good health plan is in place for employees, companies may able to implement some of the suggestions offered by the health plan. Many have monthly newsletters, great Internet sites full of wellness information, and reminders for employees about when they should get yearly check-ups or tests. These can all be incorporated into a company wellness plan, or employers can at least encourage their employees to use the available resources.
Some companies decide to pursue this much more. They may have other benefits to offer employees like free or reduced price gym memberships, cafeterias that serve healthy food, or instructors that teach tai chi before work. A sense of fellowship between employees could be established if on weekends or after work, workers could participate together in healthy cooking classes. Amount of resistance to employee wellness programs is usually met if the suggestions made are impossible to follow (high prices for health screenings for instance). Greater success for wellness programs tends to exist when employers make it possible for their workers to participate without much extra effort.
A few companies will go a little farther in their efforts to keep employees healthy. They might offer them bonuses for participation in wellness events, or for ending habits like smoking. Other ways to encouraging participation in whatever wellness programs are offered can include giving prizes or awarding people by recognizing worker efforts in company newsletters.
Employers clearly understand that they benefit when their workers are healthy, and unfortunately, many Americans are not. Encouraging healthful habits and behavior is a good idea, when it comes with a light touch. Forcing employees to participate in wellness programs isn’t likely to create much emotional wellness in a company. Rather, employers have to be creative and look at ways they can encourage healthy living while making it fun and easy. They also have to practice what they preach and participate in these programs too, with great enthusiasm.