Employers are devoting an increasing amount of attention to the health of their employees, and for good reason. Here are just five.
Wellness builds a sense of belonging
Repeated studies have shown that a sense of belonging in the workplace leads to higher levels of satisfaction and greater productivity. Health and wellness programs can create feelings of commitment and pride among employees, generating a culture of acceptance and support.
Two years ago, when I recognized that I was not giving my physical well-being the attention it deserved, I decided to join a gym. I lost more than 30 pounds and got my health data back into the right ranges. An unexpected outcome was that I found a community of people who care about their health, are committed to becoming the best version of themselves and challenge each other to do the same.
There’s no doubt this community has made me a better husband, father, volunteer and team member.
Health perks create competitive differentiation
Modern companies are competing with one another to offer candidates the best benefits packages, and wellness programs are often a big bonus. Millennials, which now make up nearly three-quarters of the workforce, are especially attracted to companies that value holistic wellbeing.
Many employers are focused on iterative wellness programs, as evidenced by research on the continual investment companies are making to improve their wellness initiatives. Robert Half recently found that 66 percent of companies have broadened health and wellness options in the last five years.
Happy employees make for happy customers
Employees who feel good about themselves have more to give to clients. Bank Iowa CEO Jim Plagge has experienced this first hand as the bank’s 3-year-old wellness program has matured. “Overall health has a strong ripple effect, and if you’re paying attention and really cultivating it, you can realize pretty incredible benefits you never anticipated.”
BI Worldwide, a global employee engagement agency, found that people who feel their employers are looking out for them are far more likely to be interested in company-sponsored wellness programs. In a recent white paper, the agency advised employers to develop programs that are true benefits rather than expectations: Much of the difference between health initiatives that succeed and those that fail is whether they are something the company does to its employees or for them.
Health reduces hard and soft costs
There are numerous ways a healthy workforce has tangible and intangible impact on the bottom line. Aside from less sick pay and potentially lower health insurance premiums, employers with well employees enjoy benefits related to culture and reputation. With fewer team members out sick, less people feel the need to fill in the gaps created by absences.
As hard cost savings begin to pile up, some employers are choosing to share that benefit with employees. At the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which saved more than $21 million in three years on insurance premiums thanks to its wellness program, employees celebrated a health insurance premium holiday. For two pay periods, no premium payments were taken out of employee paychecks.
Wellness programs express gratitude
Paige Duncan, Bank Iowa Board of Directors Chair recently shared why the bank places such an emphasis on employee wellness. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the energy our team members give the bank, its customers and their communities than to create an environment that prioritizes their mental, physical and emotional health.”
Feeling appreciated is a growing benefit cited by employees surveyed about job satisfaction. In a recent poll, 66 percent of employees say they would likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated. That’s up 15 percentage points since 2012.
As more Iowa companies shift the cultural mindset from “employ” to “engage,” we will experience the growth of even more special environments in our communities – ones in which people live exactly the life they want, both at work and away.