What Is A Workplace Wellness Program?

What is a wellness program?

Wellness programs are often offered by an employer to provide employees with services and resources to improve the overall health and wellness of an organization's people and bottom line.  These programs are provided as a preventive measure to identify underlying health conditions or illnesses, conveniently treat acute conditions, and support and educate employees on additional areas of overall wellbeing. 

The services provided in a wellness program can be delivered onsite, nearsite, telephonically or through a hybrid combination. Wellness program services can include onsite centers, health coaching, engagement programs, biometric screenings, management programs for stress, sleep, nutrition, physical activity, chronic conditions, smoking, and more. 

Employers typically offer incentives so that employees partake in their sponsored wellness program. Some of these incentives can include free memberships, rewards, workplace benefits, and most commonly, reduced insurance costs.

What is the purpose of a wellness program?

Wellness programs are implemented in the workplace to serve a variety of purposes, but the most common one is to educate employees on their health and wellness to ultimately drive action and behavior change towards a healthier life. Programs can reveal and teach employees about chronic condition management, how to treat various acute care illnesses, or educate on how to navigate the healthcare system. Providers can hold weekly, monthly or quarterly lunch & learns to educate employees on potential threats and healthy lifestyle changes.

Wellness programs serve the purpose of reducing rising healthcare costs. Companies can save money on claims, reduced absenteeism, ER visits, sick days, office visits, lab draws and more. With workplace wellness, all health needs can be treated at the worksite, covered by an employer, free to the employee. Less sick employees who will bring their whole selves to work saves and makes the employer money.

Many employers implement workplace wellness programs to improve their culture, morale, and show their employees they care about their health. By making health accessible and supported in the workplace, an employer is showing that they care about the wellbeing of their workforce. This helps retain and reduce turnover, as well as recruit new hires. Employers can position the wellness program as a benefit offering to attract new talent. Wellness programs bring a workforce together by creating a culture of care and encouraging coworkers to come together to improve the health of their organization.

Why do employers invest and implement wellness programs?

The surge of workplace wellness programs is due to a combination of rising healthcare costs, unhealthy workforces, and turnover rates. Employers want a solution that will tackle all three, while giving them a return on investment. 

Employers can tackle rising healthcare costs by catching chronic conditions before they turn deadly (and expensive) and having any acute care needs addressed by an onsite provider rather than dealing with a copay, urgent care visit, or time away from work. 38% of wellness program participants said they took fewer sick days, because of their onsite provider.

89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives through workplace wellness programs, are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. Not only does workplace wellness help employers retain their current employees, because it creates a culture of showing that c-Suite executives truly care about their health, but it also attracts new hires. Human resources can position the wellness program as a benefit offering for potential new hires. 

What do wellness programs look like?

Workplace wellness programs can be completely customized to meet the needs of the employer. Do you have one central location, hundreds of employees, high healthcare costs and a need for health education? An onsite provider might be the solution. 

Do you have multiple locations spread out, even across various states, with less than 100 employees at each location and a need for healthcare? A hybrid comprehensive program can help identify, treat, and educate your employees in-person or telephonically. 

Wellness programs don’t just fit a one-size mold. In fact, if employers provided more relevant support to their exact population, 85% of employees said they would increase their participation in sponsored wellness programs. The first step is working with a partner to identify what exactly the employee population needs, and building the program around that.