Across manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and other industries, June is National Safety Month—and the second week of June is completely focused on employee wellness. Does your organization have an existing worksite wellness program that fosters physical and mental well-being in the workplace? If not, now is a great time to begin developing and implementing such a program. And even if your organization does have an existing wellness program in place, there’s likely some room for improvement. What better time to identify and fill gaps in your workplace wellness program than during National Safety Month?
The overall health and wellness of your workers is undoubtedly important—and for a number of compelling reasons. Consider, for starters, that having an employee wellness program in place can produce a high return on investment for employers in the form of workers using fewer sick days, being injured less frequency on the job, and potentially even having lower health insurance expenses. In fact, a study of one organization found that wellness programs yielded a return of more than $2.70 for every single dollar spent. Of course, this ROI can vary greatly from one organization to the next, but the fact remains that these programs save organizations money.
Aside from the financial benefits organizations can enjoy upon implementing a sound workplace wellness program, it is also worth noting that these programs can result in safer and more productive workplaces as well. This is because wellness programs that encourage and allow workers to take care of themselves physically and mentally result in more alert and aware employees who are less likely to injure themselves on the job or put other workers’ safety at risk. As a result, there are fewer worksite hazards and fewer on-the-job injuries.
Finally, when workers feel as though their employers truly care about their overall well-being, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and work with greater productivity. This can also help to boost employee morale and even lower employee turnover rates—which is a win/win situation for all involved.
While there is perhaps no simple “universal” definition of employee health and wellness, there are a few key components that can make up the well-being of an average worker. Keep in mind that many of these components are interrelated.
Having a wellness program that promotes mental health is key. One of the best ways to support mental health with a workplace wellness program is to ensure workers are not only offered plenty of time off, but that they’re educated on their organization’s specific leave time policies and how to optimize the time off available to them. Simply put, workers need restful time off from work in order to relax, unwind, and decompress. Still, millions of vacation days are forfeited across the United States each year because employees either don’t understand their organizational leave policies or feel discouraged from taking time off.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that physical health should be a primary focus of any workplace wellness program. Employees need to be in overall good health in order to work safely on-the-job and remain productive as well. Organizations can help to support physical health through wellness programs that encourage workers to get enough exercise; for example, some organizations provide free gym memberships or a discount on health insurance premiums.
The foods employees fuel their bodies with can have a huge impact on their performance on-the-job, yet many employers fail to provide nutritious food options in the workplace. Consider assessing the types of foods that are available in workplace vending machines, in break rooms, and elsewhere to ensure workers have access to healthy food and snacks that will promote health and wellness.
For organizations with existing workplace wellness programs, when was the last time you assessed effectiveness? Often times, organizations have no way of tracking the success of their wellness initiatives; as a result, they may not be as helpful to their employees as they think.
Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have put together a useful “scorecard” tool for employers looking to evaluate the success of their worksite health promotion programs. Using a simple charted scorecard and answering some basic questions about your organization’s wellness program, you can come up with a relatively subjective score that will help you determine areas where your wellness program may be succeeding versus areas where it could use improvement.
The survey only takes about 30 minutes to complete and requires basic “yes” or “no” responses regarding important workplace wellness topics, such as:
Once you’ve identified your organization’s overall score, you can begin developing strategies for improving your employee wellness plan. In the future, you can re-take the CDC assessment and be able to easily identify areas where you have improved your workplace wellness program. Organizations are also encouraged to contact their State Health Departments for assistance in improving their workplace wellness programs, as well as creating “action teams” that include both members of management and employees; these teams can be integral in providing guidance and developing the workplace wellness program as it shifts and changes.
Of course, using the CDC’s scorecard tool is not a substitute for consulting with your employees and finding out more about their individual needs. Only by doing so can you really identify and target areas where workers may need additional support or assistance.
There are plenty of easy ways to request this kind of feedback from your employees. Consider, for example, holding in-person meetings and inviting feedback. Technology also makes it easy to send out surveys (you can even make them anonymous if you want to) where employees can express their individual needs when it comes to workplace health and wellness support. While it may not be possible to cater to every single one of these individual needs, inviting this type of feedback is a great way to identify trends. For example, you may find that many of your workers have goals to quit smoking, and that your workplace wellness program could easily implement strategies to help support this goal.
While it can take some time to begin seeing an actual return on investment after implementing a worksite health and wellness program, the truth is that any organization can reap benefits from these programs when they’re done correctly. The key is to not only understand the important components of employee health and wellness, but to be constantly evaluating and improving workplace wellness programs as workers’ needs change.
When employees know their employers consider their health and wellness a top priority, they are more likely to follow suit themselves. And when workers’ mental and physical health is truly valued, everybody is able to enjoy a safer and more productive workplace. Reach out to the IMPROV® Learning team today to find out more about how we can help your organization optimize its existing worksite wellness program!