Five people rolling up yoga mats

Tailoring employee wellness programs to meet the needs of your unique team helps increase engagement and ensure success.

Many of today’s work environments are focused on more than the 9-to-5. Study after study has indicated that healthier, happier employees do better work — and are more likely to remain on when they feel appreciated. In response, employee wellness programs have become increasingly popular in environments of all types, sizes and industries.

In this blog post, BCH’s employee benefits professionals delve into what HR pros should know about employee wellness programs. From selecting the right options for your team to the benefits you could see at the employer level and the best ways to get individuals involved, we’re offering benefits insights when it matters.

What is an Employee Wellness Program, and Why Offer One?

What is an employee wellness program? A common benefits option in today’s workplaces, it’s a program designed to promote team member health and well-being — and help those involved take active steps toward healthier lifestyles. Programs can encompass a wide range of offerings, from gym memberships to educational events and support to aid in work-life balance.

It’s important to note that an employee wellness program offers benefits for employers and employees alike. Let’s take a look at how they help.

Benefits for Employers:

  • Enhanced Engagement and Productivity: Employees who feel supported and valued through wellness initiatives, and who feel good physically, are more likely to be engaged and productive at work.
  • Reduced Healthcare Costs: Programs focused on employee wellness often lead to lower healthcare expenses for employers, thanks to lower rates of illness, reduced absenteeism and healthier all-around lifestyles.
  • Helping the Brand Shine Bright: A robust wellness program speaks volumes about a company’s commitment to its employees’ well-being. This doesn’t just aid in employee retention, but can help with recruiting, too.

Benefits for Employees:

  • Improved Physical Health: Access to fitness programs, the ability to take advantage of preventive screenings and resources surrounding healthy lifestyle choices can all help employees improve their physical health. This helps to lower their risk of chronic diseases while also increasing their energy levels.
  • Healthy Focus on Mental Health: Counseling services, stress management workshops and related mental health support incorporated into your wellness options can empower team members to better cope with workplace stress and maintain a positive mindset.
  • Enhanced Job Satisfaction: Employees who feel their leadership is looking out for their overall health and wellness — not just how much they accomplish on the clock — often experience a heightened sense of belonging and satisfaction. This leads to improved morale and makes it more likely that the best employees will remain with the team for the long term.

Employee Wellness Program Ideas: Finding Your Company’s Right Fit

The most successful wellness initiatives are those that not only address team members’ needs, but offer benefits they’re interested in taking part in. Consider implementing surveys or focus groups to gauge where your team’s interests lie. Remember, “wellness” is a subjective term. Not everyone has the same goals, or has the time needed to invest hours weekly into a program.

Your options for employee wellness program ideas are virtually limitless, which can be equal parts freeing and overwhelming. We recommend sitting down with your employee benefits professional to develop a custom-tailored program that fits your business. Let’s take a look at some of today’s most popular employee wellness program ideas.

  • Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Disease Prevention
  • Financial Wellness Education
  • Fitness
  • Mental Health Assistance
  • Nutrition Education
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Stress Management
  • Weight Loss

BCH Tip: Not sure where to start when getting your efforts off the ground? Our Wellness Program Primer offers additional insights to guide your selections.

Employee Engagement Ideas: Getting Teams Onboard with Your Program

Having a quality employee wellness program in place is an important step, but it doesn’t do much good if no one takes advantage of it. Here are a few employee engagement ideas to help your program move successfully forward.

  • Offer Incentives for Active Involvement: “Gamifying” everyday tasks that might otherwise feel mundane is an effective way to make employees want to work toward their goals — and maybe even have fun doing it. Consider offering rewards for team members who hit fitness milestones or check specific “tasks” off their wellness program list. Options can include everything from recognition at company events to an afternoon off, entry into a company raffle or financial rewards.
  • Keep in Communication: Even the best employees will forget to take part in a program if they aren’t reminded that it exists. Consider highlighting a specific aspect of your program each month and advertising upcoming wellness events. Also, when team members hit milestones, celebrate them! You can incorporate these messages into emails, intranet message boards and even in-person reminders during meetings. Physical posters around the office can help, too.
  • Focus on the “Why”: To those who don’t regularly work in HR or benefits, the concept of the employee wellness program can seem a bit random. (After all, if they’re paid to do office work, why should it matter how often they exercise?) Educating the team about the reasons your program exists — and the specific benefits for team members — can encourage buy-in. Touch on facts such as that healthier employee bases typically pay less in health insurance, and that smart lifestyle choices often create more productive work environments while improving quality of life outside the office, too.

Welcome Feedback and Act Accordingly: No matter how much work you put into your employee wellness program, if it isn’t hitting on what team members need or want it to, they aren’t likely to remain involved. Reach out regularly to gauge what’s working, what isn’t and what your team would like to see in the future. It isn’t always possible to shift gears mid-season, but letting people know they’re being heard, and their ideas are being considered can go a long way toward keeping them actively involved.

Getting the Maximum ROI on Wellness Programs

A company’s return on investment (ROI) on wellness programs will vary widely based on a chosen program’s specifics, associated benefits plans and the like, but it’s an important consideration to factor in. After all, you put a lot of time, money and energy into crafting initiatives that speak to your team while serving its needs. Such a substantial investment should garner substantial results.

Let’s look at a few ways you can optimize your ROI on wellness programs, looking after both your business and the people who make it possible.

  • Use Your Insurance Plan to its Fullest: Your insurance plan is required to provide free preventive care benefits for members, spouses and dependents. Consider sending age-appropriate screening reminders, providing vaccination sign-ups and having outside vendors come on-site to provide screenings.
  • Create a Targeted Plan: Identify the biggest problem areas among your employees. Do you have many smokers? Are some employees struggling with obesity? Choose the areas with the highest prevalence rates to create your initial wellness program.
  • Make Workplace Modifications and New Policies: Implement changes in your workplace to promote healthy living, such as programs encouraging team members to take the stairs or take a group walk during lunch. Updating company vending machines to include healthier options is another great approach.
  • Utilize Community Resources: Make the most of offerings from nonprofit organizations, your county health department, the chamber of commerce, local health care providers and your city government. Such programs often welcome new attendees with open arms.

BCH Tip: Looking for other great ways to improve your ROI on wellness programs? Our Wellness ROI Rundown offers other great tips to help your company find success. 

Selecting the right employee wellness programs can be stressful, but it’s much easier with the right team by your side. If you have questions about any of the above, or if you’re interested in learning how BCH’s employee benefits team can help you secure options that make sense, feel free to reach out at any time. We’re here to help, and we look forward to hearing from you!