Early in my career, I’ve had the privilege of developing several specific health improvement programs for a major insurance carrier. At the time, I was unaware of the impact our development team was making on all the lives we touched. The truth is, we created programs that not only improved quality of life for the individual, but also gave employers a major advantage when it came to healthier and happier workers.
The current economic downswing has forced companies to reduce expenditure in a number of areas in an effort to stay afloat financially. At a time when many people are either looking for work or find themselves in jobs whereby even the slightest cost of living raise is out of the question, the issue here is where should employers turn to retain their qualified staff and promote company loyalty?
Worksite wellness programs have been long touted as a means of increasing the health and wellbeing of a workforce. It’s no mystery that healthier employees are happier employees that will take fewer sick days, are more productive, and have lower rates of medical utilization. In fact, according to the Wellness Council of America, for every $1 invested in a wellness program, there is $3 savings in health care costs. However, I believe they actually do more than that – they create a message. This underlying message to the employee is that we (as management) are willing to invest in you and want you to live healthier. Even the smallest changes of policy and health improvement offerings will create a sense of belonging and camaraderie; qualities of which are essential to any organization.
So where do you begin? Always start with feedback from employees. Ensure there is an interest in developing a program. Next, form a company health improvement committee comprised of individuals representing all levels of the company-including upper management. This sends the message to everyone that the program is supported across the board. It’s a good idea to start on a small scale and build your program over time. This helps the program maintain longevity, employee interest and financial flexibility moving forward.
Below lists a few economical programs that can be quickly put into operation.
- Vending Machine Revamp
- Walking Programs
- Weekly Lunch and Learns
- “Biggest Loser” Challenges
- No Smoking Policies
In a time when companies are looking to cut costs, the one area that shouldn’t suffer is the health and wellbeing of their employees. A cost effective program can implemented by getting everyone involved and taking small, inexpensive steps to improve the overall health of the company.