Portrait of successful African-American businessman smiling while discussing deal with Caucasian partner during meeting at coffee break to represent Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs article.

Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

Share this story

Written by: SafeWorkforce
3rd May

Employee wellness programs offer a variety of benefits to businesses, including reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, improved morale, and increased employee satisfaction. By investing in a company-wide wellness program, businesses can improve their bottom line and create a more positive work environment.

What is an Employee Wellness Program

Wellness focused employee benefits are provisions that are provided (potentially at a cost to the employer) to show a desire to care for the employee’s wellbeing, and potentially encourage employee commitment and increase employee engagement. For the purpose of this article, we have identified seven areas of employee wellbeing.

  1. Health
  2. Good Work
  3. Values/Principles
  4. Collective/Social
  5. Personal Growth
  6. Good lifestyle choices
  7. Financial wellbeing

Different types of Employee Wellness Programs

A wellness program is any organised activity within a workplace that is designed to support the health and wellbeing of your employees. Wellness programs, could include any of the following:

  • Fitness programs
  • Health screenings
  • Health and wellness competitions
  • Healthy food options in the workplace
  • Gym memberships reimbursements
  • Cycle to work schemes
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Eye care vouchers
  • Health insurance
  • Death in service/life assurance
  • Enhanced sick pay
  • Free flu vaccinations
  • Financial support, and
  • Preventative care including stress management courses, help to stop smoking, and wellness assessments.

The Benefits of a Wellness Program

However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and the program you introduce should be based on the needs and characteristics of the organisation and its employees. So, when introducing a wellness program, it is worthwhile ensuring that it is valued by the employees whilst staying aligned with your organisation’s goals and culture. However, once they are implemented they can have a number of benefits for both the employee and the organisation.

  1. Improves employee health and wellbeing
  2. Reduces healthcare costs
  3. Increases productivity
  4. Improves morale
  5. Reduces stress levels
  6. Improves attendance
  7. Improves team work
  8. Attracts new talent

1. Wellness programs can help reduce the number of health risks by allowing employees to adopt healthier habits. For example, smoking less, getting regular exercise, improved sleep, and eating healthier will help them reduce the risk of long-term health problems and help them feel more energised throughout the working day. Eating nutritiously can also help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. 2. Another addition perk of a Wellness program can be the reduction of healthcare costs of 26%3. More rest and energy means that employees will be more motivated to work to the best of their abilities, which has the added benefit of making your workers more productive for your organisation.

4. Activities such as walking groups and/or step challenges can also help employees feel more connected as they get to work with colleagues and strengthen relationships, which also builds employee morale and engagement. 5,6. By introducing different wellness activities into the working day, you also add variety to their workday which can help reduce workplace stress and improve employee absence levels and retention. 7. These collaborative activities can also have another pay off for the organisation, which is the development of a core soft skill; Teamwork. This is vital if you want to work well with colleagues and teammates, the better you work with others, the more successful your team will be in achieving their goals.

8. Having wellness focused benefits is a huge selling point for prospective employees these days as well, as besides salary they will be interested in seeing what other things a company can offer them and studies show benefits are extremely important, especially with the rise in mental health issues over the past 10 years.

Supporting Mental Health as well as Physical Health

It has become recognised that work can be a cause of any mental health issues and that now, not only are there physical risks to consider at work, but also psychological. This shows that now more than ever, it is important that companies recognise wellbeing and introduce practices to address psychological wellbeing as well as physical. This doesn’t just amount to unmanageable workloads or unhealthy working practices either.

To address the need for looking out for employee’s psychological wellbeing, employers should ensure they take a more open approach to managing mental health and wellbeing and offer sources of help such as counselling, EAPs, or Occupational Health assessments where appropriate.

Who is responsible for Employee Wellbeing?

When it comes to being responsible for employee wellbeing, everyone is responsible. For example, people professionals have a leading role to play as they are there to drive the health and wellbeing agendas ang provide guidance on the policies and practices to ensure they are implemented consistently. To do this, they will have to make sure that managers are taking it seriously and treating employees wellbeing as a priority, and dealing with matters compassionately. It is also important that they give line managers guidance on how to support employees so that they can have sensitive conversations and signpost individuals where needed.

Managers are crucial for wellbeing as they see the employees regularly and can influence how people see the wellbeing initiatives. These are the people who will be embedding the wellbeing culture into the day-to-day activities. Managers will also have responsibility for managing employee’s health as they will be able to spot when people are struggling and implement initiatives to support such as making workplace adjustments.

Finally, your employees. Employees are an obvious answer, because all employees are responsible for looking after their own health and wellbeing. Wellbeing initiatives will only be a benefit if the employees are looking after themselves outside of work as well as whilst at work. Employees can also encourage one another to be involved and communicate their feelings and feedback so that the company can learn how to adapt and evolve their wellbeing initiatives.