An increasing number of employers have connected the dots between employee wellness and improved workplace productivity. That’s why it makes so much sense for businesses to emphasize wellness as part of their company culture.
In fact, 72 percent of companies in the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employee Benefits survey said they currently offer some form of wellness program, .
The digital connection
If improvement in your employees' wellness is your goal, digital technology can play a significant role in improving their health and consequently, their productivity. Research has explicitly linked the use of wearables, apps and other technology to increased employee productivity, as well as reduced absenteeism, lower stress levels and decreased employer healthcare costs.
Related: In Defense of Work-Life Balance
A survey from Health IT Outcomes reported that 90 percent of employees surveyed said they wanted their company to provide a wearable device for tracking as an incentive. Companies are responding: Nearly half of the employers surveyed by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) offered or sponsored a tracker device as part of their wellness program.
By investing in digital technology, employers can boost participation in corporate wellness programs. These devices are a constant reminder to employees of their health status, allowing them to monitor their physical fitness activities, heart rates, body temperatures and even sleep patterns.
A competitive advantage
Businesses that promote a culture of wellness have a competitive edge. Those adoptive businesses can build stronger employee engagement with the company’s goals, according to a study sponsored by Humana and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The study found that employees in wellness programs are 12 percent less likely to experience health issues caused by work-related stress and nearly 10 percent less likely to find professional obligations interfering with their ability to make healthy choices regarding nutrition and exercise.
The Humana/EIU study also confirmed that stress remains a severe health problem in the workplace. More than 70 percent of the employees surveyed concurred that company wellness programs can have at least a moderate impact in reducing stress. According to other key findings, approximately nine in 10 employees surveyed said they find participating in employee wellness programs improves their fitness as well as their overall happiness and well-being.
Keys to increasing participation
So, what’s thwarting increased participation? One key contributor is a lack of time. Approximately half of the employees in the Humana/EIU study said they were too busy to participate as fully as they would like in their company’s wellness program. One way companies can compensate is to increase the motivation for participation.
Healthcare Trends Institute recommends developing a “sticky strategy” to incentivize participation, to help companies, for example, recoup an investment in wearables. In a 2016 PwC study, The Wearable Life 2.0, more than 50 percent of respondents said that features such as monetary rewards would motivate increased use; and 45 percent said a gamification component would foster healthy competition.
Gamification also promotes a sense of team camaraderie -- the idea that “we’re all in this together,” pulling for, and supporting, one other -- which ultimately will boost morale, workplace engagement and productivity.
A company win-win
Clearly, there are multiple benefits -- for businesses and their employees -- in implementing an effective company wellness program:
- Increased productivity
- Decreased absenteeism
- Reduced healthcare costs
- Less work-related stress
- More motivated employees
- Better employee engagement
- Renewed sense of team camaraderie
- Improved health, well-being and happiness
- Expanded alignment with company goals and company culture
The tie between corporate success and improved employee health and well-being is evident, and that’s a win-win that will take your company culture to a whole new level.