As one of India’s top corporate wellness companies, we are often asked a lot of questions on conducting employee fitness activities because a lot of companies in India do not know where and how to start out.
For this reason, we have written a long and informative article on the history of corporate wellness in the corporate world and also how one can create a corporate wellness plan. Company personnel in HR or other departments reading this article can then make an informed decision about the kind of employee wellness activities that they can roll out in their own companies.
ROI ON CORPORATE WELLNESS
To begin with, you need to develop a corporate wellness program with a strategy in mind. Only then can you play a crucial role in improving the health and fitness levels of employees in your organization. This, in turn, will have a positive impact on your company’s revenue because healthier employees are productive employees. The keywords for a healthy return on investment (ROI) are “strategically developed and implemented” corporate wellness programs.
THE EVOLUTION OF WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Almost every enterprise wants its employees to be healthy. Even though company management were never the best promoters of health, initially companies started preventing employees from smoking (especially during company hours) which made a lot of sense. Over time the company management even promoted its employees to exercise within company premises and company hours.
These enterprises which had a corporate wellness program in place, usually adopted measures like tying up with a local gym and providing their employees with a discount for exercising. Companies even provided referrals for a smoking rehabilitation centre. But what about the rest of health parameters that need to be addressed? Organizations in earlier times conveniently swept them under the rug.
Alcoholism and drug addiction were not talked about despite people having absolute knowledge of how destructive these habits were and how it affected an employee’s health negatively. Businesses cared little about them. In fact, even now most companies almost always overlook factors like Diabetes, obesity and emotional problems amongst their employees.
But things are changing now. In the US, you will find an Americans with Disabilities act
. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care ACT (PPACA) also houses some of these initiatives in it. The cost of wellness programs
have been included in employee benefits.
WHAT IS A STATE-OF-THE-ART WELLNESS PROGRAM?
In the present day scenario, a wellness program is a standard feature in most companies that care about their employees. Sponsored by the corporate houses, it offers systematic methods to
educate its employees on health issues. These programs also have several markers to identify potential health risks that can harm an employee in the long run. They then prescribe the necessary changes in modifiable lifestyle behaviours that can improve an employee’s physical and mental health. These changes can have a positive impact on a specific person’s life and improve success in his / her career and personal life. That way corporate houses are trying their best to encourage their employees to lead a healthy and fit lifestyles.
So you can see that developing and implementing a successful wellness offering is both an art and a science. Now, let us have a look at the United States DoL’s (Department of Labor’s) guidelines for ensuring a high quality and fairly represented corporate wellness program –
Insights Of Various Corporate Wellness Programs
The Rand Corporation studies deliver a lot of insights into company activites. In 2013, they published four case studies along with the participation of the US Department of Labour. In these case studies they researched extensively on wellness programs of organizations of different sizes across various employment sectors. After that, the common features that should be presented in a state-of-the-art wellness program were clearly laid out –
- The organizations should take all the necessary steps for developing and implementing a wellness program. They should also transparently describe the method of data collection as well.
- The organization should also mention the expenses and the participation of wellness companies, vendors and partners in the wellness program.
- The organization should also keep in mind the changes in any physical environment connected with wellness.
- There should be appropriate alignment between the corporate programs and the medical insurance plans of the employees.
- Financial and non-financial incentives should be a part of the engagement strategy of the wellness program.
- Leadership support from top should be an ever-existent part in the plan’s marketing strategy.
What Should You Expect From A Successful Wellness Program
Successful wellness programs have equally successful results. These outputs are as vital as the inputs that have been provided. Without these positive outcomes, the whole program is considered as a failure.
These results help in measuring and reinforcing employee participation. Successful plans reuse those positive outcomes by continuing on the improvement of wellness programs.
These Wellness Programs are designed and offered by businesses of all sizes. Even government agencies and non-profit organizations chip in. But why do they do so? They have a lot of variables involved in the program. Costs in time, labor, and outright expenditures are some of these elements.
Overall, on the basis of these elements, these wellness programs can seem dissuading to small employers because of the cost. It could be too complex for comprehension of mid-sized businesses who are always short on staff. At the same time, these programs are deemed too incidental for large enterprises. So, is there any solution to these so-called roadblocks in the employee wellness programs? Yes, there certainly is one way out.
Many willing employers find it convenient to seek the help of third-party wellness providers like us. These third party providers can give you a significant ROI. Thus it comes as no surprise that wellness programs have become an important strategic decision for businesses all across the world.
WHAT IS A FAILED WELLNESS PROGRAM?
In the above, we have been discussing all about the successes of a wellness program. What happens when these wellness programs do not work? The RAND report of 2009 seems to suggest just that. In the studies, it was found that 92 % of the larger US organizations offered these wellness programs. But the participation of the employees in this was very poor! Only 20% of the eligible workers participated in these programs. But there were other interesting observations that were unearthed in the study.
Half of the employers had no idea whether the wellness program offered a ROI! This 2009 report further found the basic problem that lay behind this failure. One of the biggest causes of failure was that these programs were introduced without any sort of clear goals and a strategic alignment was also seen lacking among most of these programs.
Down the years, these wellness programs have been more or less of a patchwork. The in-house or third party wellness program providers have thrown and sewn together the elements which serve some outright altruistic aim that has vague outlines. Now we come to the question why it has been so in the first place?
Most of the employers thought it was enough to have these programs available for all the employees. But they floundered on the very next step. They made little or no effort to find out whether the program served the quintessential purpose or not. These organizations have made wellness a convenient asset to its employees, but they failed to link this participation of the employees with any sort of personal or corporate success. So, the employees see it more as a liability than an necessity.
WHAT IS A STRATEGIC WELLNESS PROGRAM?
There are many factors on which a strategic wellness program rests on. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), there are five factors which makes an effective wellness program –
1. Alignment – The business’ core values are reflected by proper alignment of these effective programs.
2. Scope – Quality wellness programs are focused on employees and are easily understandable.
3. Accessible – These wellness programs should be available at little or no cost to the employees. They should also be available on site.
4. Collaborative – For encouraging employees, proper monitoring and participation is a must. This can happen with collaboration with an active partner only.
5. Communication – Wellness is not just a target, it is a human requirement as well. Under such programs, human, social and community issues are highlighted and communicated effectively.
There is a key to be as “strategic” as possible. By understanding that wellness cannot be ignored as a must-have “add on” organizational requirement, you have achieved the first step of the purpose. Once an organization understands its far-reaching effects, it can be easily linked with productivity as well. If the management has good intentions for its employees, there will certainly be a distinct ROI.
WHAT ARE SIGNS OF A STRATEGIC WELLNESS PROGRAM?
1. Leadership – Honest leadership clearly comprehends that the right culture is required for making a successful wellness program. Participation is paramount, and it will be responsible for the creation of workers who are completely engaged in their personal and corporate activities. With such positive and long-lasting effects of employee well being, the management should certainly incorporate wellness committees or wellness champions within the company as an indispensable part of organizations.
2. Accessibility – Wellness is not the responsibility of the local gym. It is, in fact, a part of the company’s management policies. Good leaders recognize this and hence, make it an almost mandatory option in the organization. The leaders can further enhance this by keeping cafeteria diets healthier, building social exercising, building rapport between employees and asking signage for projects via verbal communication or emails thus keeping employees on their toes. All of this builds a culture within the team and encourages participation.
3. Socialization – Now that we have talked about culture building, we certainly realize that socialization is important as well. Engagement builds up communication and interaction in the team. It has relevance and is a result of common interests across various workgroups. This interaction makes wellness activities at the workplace interesting, alive and engaging.
4. Gamification – If you provide incentives at the end of each target in a wellness program, then that will encourage a lot of participation from the employee side. Businesses gain only when employees feel well. The better the employees feel the more satisfied they are with their jobs. The more satisfied they are the lesser are the chances of filing a compensation claim. This encourages insurance companies to underwrite the employees under mediclaim. So, rewarding the employees is a good idea because all employees crave respect and recognition.
5. Metrics – Metrics like ROI are one of the key performance indicators of employee participation in wellness programs and help sustain the wellness beyond just a few initial months. But quantity does not equate with quality. Other metrics that are involved are satisfaction, behavioral changes, voluntary biometrics, and routine productivity measures. Size, frequency, and duration of medical claims will measure the success of these measures, but they often manifest after a long duration post implementing these wellness measures. When you are reaping rich financial dividends, then you should invest some portion of it in strategic investments.
WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE TO STRATEGIC WELLNESS PROGRAMS?
At the moment, there is simply no alternative for a wellness program! The strategic motive comes from inside or outside the enterprise as a whole. But the momentum it delivers to the organization makes it vitally important.
- Chronic conditions cost the economy of the US around $1.3 trillion. In the other leading economies of the world, no conclusive studies have been performed in this regard. But rest assured all modern economies of the world pay a substantial amount directly or indirectly.
- Productivity losses account for $1.3 trillion of the net loss.
- $277 Billion is being spent on treatment alone.
- Upto 2023, there will be a 42 % increase in cases related to the conditions mentioned above. The treatment costs will be around $4.2 trillion.
- Minor improvements in wellness could result in avoidance of 40 million cases around the workplace.
- This improvement can save around 27% or $1.1 trillion on an annual basis. It could also increase USA’s national GDP by $905 Billion. Corporate culture should evolve in such a manner that they could engage the employees even more. Their organizational tools should be improvized in-tune with the organizations.
Overall, all present-day wellness programs need to be re-engineered. They need to be in-tune with an organization’s requirements.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYEE’S WELLNESS RESPONSIBILITY?
Some organizations have only basic demands for wellness. For example a healthcare professional has the liability of being free of communicable diseases. Similarly, lab workers need to keep contamination out of premises. Lab employees are expected to be free of pre-existing health conditions on a genuine, bona-fide basis. An employee cannot discriminate between other employees on the basis of pre-existing conditions. The employees are only expected to –
- Report for a full day’s work. They must not take half days, until the situation demands them to be otherwise. In return, they deserve a full day of wage for a full day’s work.
- Promote and participate in team work. Each employee is expected to contribute as much as his colleagues.
- They should have self interest for uplifting their own wellness along with others. Their well being affects the well being of the whole team.
- There should be no negativity. An employee cannot always look at a responsibilty with a mindset of “what is in it for me” purpose only. If an employee is resisting a change then that could be because of some illness he / she has been ailing from. Negative behaviour often stems from anxiety, depression, hypertension and diabetes. Special care of the individual should be taken in that regard.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYER’S WELLNESS RESPONSIBILITY?
As compared to the employee, the responsibility of employers is a complex one. We have already mentioned the requirements of an employee. Now, we shall look at the responsibilities of various heads of organizations.
1. Legal responsibility – OSHA or the Occupational Health and Safety administration in the US has issued a mandate for comprehensive health and safety provisions for all employers. Along with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Oroganization (JCAHO), all the required conditions for employees are spelt out in the health standards mentioned. They are bound to comply with these standards.
2. Social Responsibility – The advanced cultures, mostly in the first world countries have improved the working conditions of workers. They did not start selflessly on their own accord. In fact, most of them have been ridiculed before complying to these mandates. But that has resulted in reducing a lot of domestic abuse. Healthy workers perform better at work because they are healthy and happy. They do not take many leaves and do not complain much at work. They also keep their temper in check.
3. Stakeholder responsibility – Investor markets are becoming exceedingly democratic with each passing day. More and more people are voicing organization goals. Employees are given more facilities for enhancing their wellness. With this in mind, organizations have more employees participating wholeheartedly with their respective employers.
As investment markets have become democratized, more voices are speaking up about corporate goals. Stakeholders want to see more than lip service paid to employee interests. They demand core values such as employee wellness as a concession to employee expectations. Aligning individual employee health needs with organizational missions simply makes sense to everyone invested in the organization.
There might not be any financial benefit to the organization in return, but it has been observed as the medical compensation claim costs have fallen considerably. These findings have been published in Harvard’s Business Review as well. So you can see the positive impact of wellness programs.
WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIC WELLNESS PROGRAM?
The biggest pain point in implementing a wellness program is whether the organization and the individual have integrated it or not. But that too depends on a few factors –
1. Accountability – A wellness program needs focused management involvement. Irrespective of the size of the organization, there needs to be a Wellness Officer who reports directly to the HR director. The wellness officer would analyze all the elements including costs and participation in the wellness programs. They would also ensure that the wellness program is accessible to all employees in an organization. He / she will bear the benefit of both the organization and employee in mind.
2. Engagement – Wellness Officers will require to ensure that participation is maximum. That can be achieved by making the program, exciting, fun and convenient for all.
3. Motivation – Motivation can be done by providing financial incentives. But money is just the topping that can take many forms. It can give the employee a mental and physical boost, while reducing the costs of the organization in the forms of reduced compensation claims.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, below is the health report of major organizations. Conditions in India are no different.
• 59% of workforce neglect adequate exercise.
• Around 50% of employees have high cholesterol.
• 27% of the workforce have cardiovascular disease.
• 26% are overweight.
•24% have high blood pressure.
That is quite a sorry picture. If left unchecked, these statistic could
mean a significant human, social, and economic loss. The profit motives of these wellness programs in the past have failed to turn these numbers around. Now, it is crystal clear that the employers’ and employees’ self-interest increasingly requires the cost-effective benefits of a strategic wellness programs.
Contact us to discuss how we can develop a strategic wellness program for your company. Click here for more information about our Corporate Wellness Services – https://www.wellintra.com/corporate-wellness/
Do not miss a single article!
Submit your email id to get new articles directly into your email inbox!