Learn about the health advantages associated with workplace wellness, and how these organized programs help to reduce health risks, enhance personal effectiveness, and improve the quality of life.
By: Mary Stephenson, Integrated Marketing Communications Major, Health Minor ’19
Americans work many hours in any given week. In fact, according to a 2013 study by the International Labor Organization, 85.5 percent of American men and 66.5 percent of American women work more than 40 hours per week. On average, this is 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours than British workers, and 499 more hours than French workers. The American workload combined with culture’s dependence on electronics have contributed to the reason why many Americans are overweight and out of shape. As a result, workplace wellness programs are more significant than ever.
What exactly is workplace wellness? Workplace wellness can be defined as an organized company that initiates ways to educate and encourage employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are many benefits to companies adopting workplace wellness programs, but there are five that standout when establishing a culture of fitness in a company.
- Fitness Lowers Healthcare Costs
Healthy employees cost less than unhealthy employees, it’s a fact! A study by the University of Michigan shows that employers who emphasize fitness can save an average of $1,100 a year for every employee who stops smoking, $1,200 on employees who lower their cholesterol, and $177 for each worker who loses more than 30 pounds when moving from obesity to a healthy weight. Healthcare spending due to unhealthy lifestyle choices is prevalent and these lifestyle choices cost American businesses in lost productivity each year.
- Less Absences
Healthier workers miss fewer days of work and therefore increase a company’s productivity. A great example of this would be that after an employee health and well-being department was established at the MD Andersen Cancer Center in Houston, lost work days had declined by 80 percent. This is a big change!
- Fitness Creates Less Stress
Mentally and physically, workplace wellness programs educate employees on how to feel better while working their jobs. Many jobs today require sitting at a computer screen, and neck, back, wrist and arm fatigue are major contributors to stress and exhaustion. Fitness programs offer exercises for desk-bound workers and give proper tips to reduce stress and muscle strain on the job. Studies also show that exercise can excite and relax and serve as a counter to depression by dissipating stress.
- Fitness Encourages Better Work Performance
Research shows that companies who have a corporate fitness program have employees that stay longer than companies that don’t. A Nebraska-based lending company asks in exit interviews what employees will miss the most about working for the company, and the top answer is the wellness program that it provides.
- Fitness Fosters Teamwork
Employees who exercise together get to know one another better, and those enhanced relationships translate into many positives. Social support is a big component to any exercise health program, and when your colleagues are in the program with you, you can boost each other’s efforts and hold each other accountable. It is also of great benefit to be able to interact with colleagues apart from the stressful work setting and have conversations that may not have been had otherwise.
Overall, workplace wellness programs can be the difference in making a company go from being good to great. Not only do these programs look out for their employees’ best interests, but they truly make working for the company or organization much more meaningful and worthwhile. When you go to interview for your first job, inquire about if the company has its own workplace wellness program!