HR professionals are used to being responsible for devising training programs for employees. But in recent years, companies have begun investing time and resources into another type of employee education: health and wellness.
While previously thought to be outside the purview of corporate direction, more businesses are finding value in encouraging employees to take a more active role in maintaining health. Wellness programs are an increasingly popular way to achieve this. Regardless of method, encouraging workers to better manage their health is important for companies who want to minimize health care spending as much as possible. There are several options to explore, but management may be pleasantly surprised to find that they can devise training programs and create online courses aimed at getting staff on board with better health.
What are wellness programs?
Companies have been experimenting with a variety of different training and incentive initiatives, all falling loosely under the umbrella of wellness programs, as means of cutting health care spending by encouraging better health among staff. According to Business and Legal Resources, these programs can focus on goals such as making healthier eating choices to reduce cholesterol, or promoting physical activity to keep employees active.
Of course, the extent and intensity of such programs varies from business to business, from general tips and advice sent from HR to staff all the way to fully involved training programs, incentivized participation and company-sponsored exercise programs. Choosing and implementing a program that works for your company is a process of determining what the specific wellness needs of your organization are, and balancing that with the resources – by financial and otherwise – that you have available to invest in such an initiative.
Benefits of promoting wellness
There may be reluctance to push for more active wellness initiatives, especially if the concern is that the cost of implementing such a program could outweigh the benefits from a business perspective. Fortunately, research has been done to demonstrate that organizations can reap a variety of material benefit from employee health initiatives. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, companies that have turned to wellness programs have noticed not only decreased spending in health care costs, but also greater employee productivity and attendance. Additionally, the source noted a survey in which 83 percent of employees noted that their belief that an employer cared about their health was a significant factor in them retaining their position.
Promoting health and wellness
It’s clear that employers have a vested interest in promoting wellness within the workplace. What may be less obvious is what steps companies can take to put programs into place. The Society for Human Resource Management noted that one of the most effective ways a company can start is by cutting down on some of the threats to employee health that are more common within the workplace – specifically, stress. In fact, the source noted that employees who experience high stress at work visit the doctor 26 percent more than those with lower levels of workplace stress. Fortunately, stress can be combated rather simply by encouraging regular exercise. Even having workers get up and take a brief walk every hour can cut down on stress levels.
It’s also important to provide your staff with the tools and education they need to take charge of their well-being. Online training courses and learning management systems can be valuable resources for providing employees with the knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices regarding their diet, exercise and stress-management routines.