The Road to Wellness Starts at the Office

By John Eric Jacobsen

Did you know that 70% of healthcare costs in the United State are preventable? According to the American Heart Association, we lose $32 BILLION a year because of premature illness associated with cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Corporate Wellness Programs are designed to directly address the increasing health, fitness and lifestyle crisis we’re experiencing in our country and in corporate America.  These numbers represent costs that affect the bottom line of every business, which is why providing employee wellness programs is more important than ever.  With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reporting that regular physical exercise and meditation can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and a host of other crippling conditions, it’s clear that these practices are a vital component to corporate wellness and health.

What does this mean for your company? According to a 2009 study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, “programs addressing workforce stress and health have steadily gained momentum over the past five years and are now reporting a massive return on investment.” In fact, 86% of companies with more than 50 employees offer wellness programs, and 31% of employers offering smoking cessation and weight management programs reported a positive ROI.

Wellness is that quality that gives us the sense that everything is under control, which in turn allows us to focus fully on what we are doing without distraction from negative stress, disease, or conflict. Wellness is a form of homeostasis – the process that maintains our internal equilibrium.

Workplace wellness is an on-going and holistic undertaking, requiring you to consider all aspects of an individual: their attitudes and home life, as well as what happens during work hours.

My company is now partnering with businesses across the country to answer the call for comprehensive, cost-effective employee wellness programs.  Designed with input by top professionals and MDs in the field, our wellness programs are designed to meet your needs to maximize health benefits AND cost savings!

It’s important to remember that a comprehensive wellness program ideally promotes four components for your employees benefit: Prevention, Recognition, Assistance, and Motivation.  Also included should be topics covering:

•healthy eating

•fitness programs

•smoking cessation

•weight loss

•job coaching & motivational skills

•sleep management

•on-going stress management

•energy management

•vitamins & nutrients

A healthy lifestyle impacts every part of your day-to-day work environment.  Good wellness programs translate into fewer injuries, less human error, and a more harmonious office environment. They also let your employee know that your organization is concerned about their general health and well-being.

For well over a decade, research has been showing the effectiveness of on-site wellness programs.  For every dollar spent on a corporate wellness program, the returns have been a cost savings of between $2.30 and $10.10 in the areas of decreased absenteeism, fewer sick days, reduced WSIB/WCB claims, lowered health and insurance costs, and improvements to employee performance and productivity.

In Canada, only 23.9% of companies reported that they have been evaluating their wellness programs regularly, which makes management unclear on the full scope of benefits being realized.

American statistics do show however, that a healthy organization increases employee morale, improves the ability to attract and retain key people, all while having more alert and productive employees.

Improved employee productivity can have a considerable impact on an organization and its profitability.  Wellness Programs tend to improve overall morale, as participating associates feel better about themselves and their company. Wellness Programs lead to a more energetic, positive and productive workplace, thus strengthening a company and helping to increase its success.

Healthy associates are happy associates; and happy workers almost always turn out to be faithful, long-term employees. So the healthier and happier the work force, the less you have to spend on hiring and training new personnel.  Remember, the basis for creating a healthy work force are well-conceived and well-promoted corporate wellness programs.

The most obvious benefit of our corporate wellness seminars is that it allows companies to reduce their overall healthcare costs, in part by reducing the number of medical claims processed each year.  Study after study has confirmed that corporate wellness programs have a preventive effect against a wide variety of illness and disease.

With a continued rise in the cost of healthcare, more and more companies are offering health education and wellness programs, according to a survey conducted by consulting firm, Hewitt Associates (which specializes in Human Resources).  In fact, 72 percent of U.S. companies are now offering such programs. Camille Haltom, a health care consultant with Hewitt Associates, noted, “We expect that organizations will not only continue to offer health promotion programs but look for ways to enhance and expand existing programs for employees.”
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