Creating a Culture of Health with a Workplace Wellness Program

With healthcare costs continuously rising and employee expectations constantly evolving, employers today feel more responsible and more invested in workplace wellness than ever before. Poor diets alone are said to cost employers at least $50 billion a year in unnecessary healthcare expenses, and that’s just one of the many ways an unhealthy workforce can negatively impact a place of business.

On the other hand, building a culture of health and well-being benefits organizations in many ways, from creating a better work environment and improving productivity to decreasing healthcare costs and driving positive behaviors. By investing in the well-being of your employees with a workplace wellness program, you can create a health-centric culture that rewards employees for making better lifestyle choices. Here’s how:


What is a culture of health, and how does it benefit employers?

Building a culture of health means creating a workplace that both encourages and contributes to the well-being of employees. According to William Baun, president of the National Wellness Institute, "In a culture of health, employee well-being and organizational success are inextricably linked. It aligns leadership, benefits, policies, incentives, programs, and environmental supports to reduce barriers to active engagement and sustainability of healthy lifestyles across the healthcare continuum."

Along with developing a stronger, healthier company culture, a culture of health and well-being benefits companies and their employees by:

  • Improving employee engagement - When employers show they’re invested in their workforce’s overall health and well-being, employees are happier, healthier mentally and physically, and more engaged in their roles.
  • Reducing absenteeism and presenteeism - Healthy employees are not only prone to taking fewer sick days, but they’re also more productive when they’re in the office. That means both absenteeism and presenteeism see noteworthy reductions when employers deploy strategic wellness programs.
  • Decreasing company-wide healthcare costs - Improving the health of your employees with a wellness program results in lower insurance premiums and decreased healthcare costs for your entire organization. (Of course, that doesn’t even begin to take into account the productivity cost savings associated with workplace wellness programs!)
  • Attracting and retaining more talent - Wellness programs offer a strong competitive advantage for potential candidates comparing benefits packages for different companies. In addition to attracting more new hires, you can also retain more existing talent by ensuring employees are healthy and happy at work.

How do you build a health-centric culture at your organization?

Even though at least 60 percent of large employers say it’s important to achieve a culture of health at work, only 20 percent are accomplishing it. Here are steps you can take to build a health-centric culture at your organization:


Launch a Workplace Wellness Program

Implementing a strategic workplace wellness program is the best way to begin building a culture of health at your company. However, launching a new wellness program requires a solid strategy complete with goals and ways to measure success. When you’re first starting, it’s essential to learn what it takes to make a wellness program work for you.

Incentivize Healthy Lifestyle Choices

The right incentives can drive significant behavioral changes, motivating employees to take an active role in their own health. For example, an insurance premium differential of $500 per year is a good motivator for an employee to participate in a wellness program. Employers can also get creative with other wellness incentives such as cash, gift cards, company swag, discounts, and loyalty points.

Plan Fun, Engaging Wellness Initiatives

Fun initiatives such as group wellness challenges, 5K runs, targeted programs, lunch and learns, fitness tracking, wellness fairs, and team scavenger hunts get employees away from their desks and excited about engaging in interactive activities. This not only helps to improve employee engagement as a whole but also encourages greater participation in workplace wellness initiatives.

Make Sure Executives Lead by Example

Like your company’s culture as a whole, a health-centric culture starts at the top and trickles down. When you implement a wellness program, it’s essential to ensure company leaders are role models for healthy lifestyles as well as enthusiastic advocates for a healthy work-life balance. Keep in mind when seeking initial buy-in from senior management that it helps to make the business case by sharing the potential benefits and anticipated return on investment for the organization.

Spread the Word on Internal Channels

Employee participation in your wellness program will only be effective if they’re aware of it—not to mention aware of the engaging activities and incentives for getting involved. You can get the message out by using internal channels such as the employee intranet, newsletters, emails, and social media platforms to spread awareness and encourage employee participation in your wellness program and initiatives.

Provide the Right Tools and Resources

Another important step to creating a culture of health and well-being is providing the right digital tools and resources to support wellness program development and optimization over time. That might mean partnering with a wellness vendor, sharing educational health resources, offering free wearable fitness trackers, empowering your employees by replacing soda and unhealthy snacks with smart, health-conscious options, or better yet, all of the above!

The benefits of creating a wellness culture in the workplace are far-reaching, with the most effective programs influencing employees’ behaviors, driving down healthcare costs, and improving company performance. Looking for a wellness partner who can support you by keeping employee health and well-being at the forefront of your organization? That’s where we come in!

Want to know how to get the most out of your program? Learn more about how wellness programs benefit both your company and employees by downloading our guide today. 

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