Workplace Wellness: Why Employers Need to Pay Attention Now

Want to increase your team's productivity? The key may be in your employee wellness and health program

Resources 5 min read May 16, 2022

Keeping employees happy and healthy is the secret to a company’s success. Workplace health and wellness programs not only help reduce health risks for participants, but also provide better quality of life and enhance the workplace culture, boosting employee morale and retention rates among others.

Here are five life-changing benefits of workplace health programs, and why every company and employee deserves one.

1) Improves Employees’ Health Behaviour

A change in behaviour is at the core of all health and wellness programs. Studies have shown that employees who participate in these programs tend to adopt healthier lifestyles and behaviour, sometimes even to significant, life-changing extents.

Participants tend to eat more healthy foods and in smaller portions, exercise more often, quit smoking, avoid drinking in excess, and learn to manage their stress levels better. This also leads to other far-related daily practices such as wearing seat belts more often, of which mindset is a result of having the right education, motivation, and social support from health and wellness programs.

2) Reduces Critical Health Risks

It’s no surprise that adopting healthy behaviours leads to lower health risks. Health risks such as elevated blood glucose, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure are mostly caused by unhealthy diets and the lack of physical activity. Workplace health programs are a great way to reduce these risks significantly, sometimes even within the short period of six weeks.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that every 1% drop in total cholesterol results in a 2 to 3% drop in the risk of a heart attack, and for every 1% drop in elevated blood pressure, another 2 to 3% drops in heart disease risk. These reduced risks create a snowball effect, leading to lower and lower possibility of disease over time. One particular study, which looked at around 200,000 participants of workplace health programs, revealed that 5 out of 7 health risks were greatly reduced after just one year of participating.

3) Enhances Productivity in the Workplace

Poor employee productivity, also known as presenteeism, can be defined as when an employee is physically at work but is not able to function to their full capabilities or work as expected.

A study found that three main bad lifestyle habits result in the highest probability of presenteeism. Employees who did little to no exercise were 50% more likely to have high presenteeism, employees with an unhealthy diet were at 66%, and smokers, 28%. These are all main drivers of unhealthy lifestyles that workplace health programs aim to (and can) change.

4) Reduces Healthcare Expenses

On the other hand, poor employee health also leads to increased absenteeism. One report, which looked at the connection between workplace health programs and absenteeism, found that employees who practice good health behaviour have healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels and show lower absenteeism by the numbers.

The numbers also say that the cost of presenteeism and absenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times larger than actual health care expenses. A Harvard study revealed that employers can save USD $2.73 for every dollar they spend on running health programs as a direct cause of more people showing up to work.

5) Boosts Employee Morale and Quality of Life

It’s no secret that employees who are healthy tend to be happier, and it’s not something that can be accurately measured by ROI or similar metrics. When employees engage with others who share the same health goals, when employees feel valued and appreciated by their employer, the reasons for doing a health program change. It no longer becomes just about the ROI. It becomes about the workplace culture, which a health program can have a great impact on.

On the company’s side, employees who have high morale are significantly less likely to be absent from work and tend to stay in the company for longer. It also helps employers recruit more talent (because who doesn’t want a job with rich benefits?). Looking at it this way, the returns on running a workplace health program are immeasurable.

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