What are the benefits to employees?
- Weight reduction
- Improved physical fitness
- Increased stamina
- Lower levels of stress
- Increased well-being, self-image, and self-esteem
What are the benefits to employers?
- Enhanced recruitment and retention of healthy employees
- Reduced healthcare costs
- Decreased rates of illness and injuries
- Reduced employee absenteeism
- Improved employee relations and morale
- Increased productivity
What is a workplace wellness program?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified five elements that comprise a comprehensive workplace health promotion program:
- Health education – Including skill development, lifestyle behavior change, information dissemination, and awareness building tailored to employees’ interests and needs.
- Supportive social and physical environments – This references an organization’s expectations regarding healthy behaviors as well as implementation of policies that promote health and reduce risk of disease.
- Onsite health screening programs – Ideally linked to medical care to ensure follow-up and appropriate treatment as necessary.
- Linkage to related programs – Such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) and programs to help employees balance work and family.
- Integration into the organization.
Many employers, and especially small to mid-sized firms, may find it difficult—or impossible—to launch a comprehensive workplace health promotion program all at once. That’s okay. Employers can start with just one or two of the five components that comprise a comprehensive program. It is most important just to start.
Data from the National Worksite Health Promotion Survey shows that over 90% of surveyed workplaces offer at least one health promotion activity that can serve as a foundation for future efforts. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to use that foundation to work towards eventually building a comprehensive program.
Overall, employers are encouraged to offer ongoing activities, rather than one-time events. A single, isolated health education activity does not constitute a comprehensive workplace health promotion program, but, as more elements are included, the program is more likely to achieve organizational goals, such as improving productivity or enhancing a firm’s image.
Where can I get free resources to start my own workplace wellness program?
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most comprehensive and evidence-based information on workplace wellness, including free toolkits, cost calculators, assessment forms, funding opportunities, and sample policies.
Free health brochures can be downloaded from University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension.
Download the Walking Program Toolkit.
The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) has developed a Healthy Meeting Toolkit. Organizations can use the toolkit for guidance on key components of a healthy meeting and resources to help make hosting healthy meetings easier.