Employee Benefit Views

Job satisfaction and wellness programs: cause and effect

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Posted February 5, 2014 by Gary C. Cassidy at 01:31PM. Comments (5)

For employers, wellness has become an important tool in the efforts to hold back the tide of ever-increasing benefit expenses. But there is mounting evidence that wellness can be much more than a cost-containment strategy. Many employers are discovering its profound and positive effect on employees and the overall workplace culture. It’s no coincidence that organizations identified as best places to work are more likely to offer broad-based wellness programs, which typically include wellness screenings, health questionnaires, lifestyle management programs, targeted benefit plan designs, as well as incentives and rewards.

As these employers experience success, other organizations are following suit and embracing the trend. According to the Aflac Workforce study, the number of businesses offering wellness increased 11% from 2011 to 2013. In terms of an organization’s ROI, 61% of respondents surveyed said wellness programs have a direct and positive impact on profitability.

Additionally, the research shows that employees who work for businesses with wellness initiatives say they like their jobs more—67% believe their employers take care of them. The same percentage say they’re extremely or very likely to recommend their workplace to others. When a wellness program goes beyond what happens within the walls of a business and becomes a positive external message that boosts its reputation and attracts talent, that’s powerful.

For workers searching for a great place to work, employee benefits and wellness are becoming important factors in their decision. Not only should employers anticipate questions related to salary and basic health and welfare benefits, they should also expect job candidates to ask about on-site gyms, gym discounts, reimbursements for WeightWatchers, and more. These benefits are no longer exclusively associated with larger employers. Workers have begun to expect robust, progressive wellness programs just about everywhere.

According to a study conducted by the Virgin Health Miles/Workforce Magazine, a striking 87 percent of employees say they consider health and wellness packages when choosing an employer. This is a significant factor in attracting top-tier talent. Wellness can be the difference between a prospective employee accepting a job offer or turning it down in favor of one from a competitor.

Once workers are on board, they appreciate the value of a good wellness program. The study shows that 70% of employees say wellness programs positively impact their work culture. Incentives drive participation, too; 78% of the study’s respondents say rewards are important and 61% say they’re a key reason to participate in the program.

So, wellness works in many ways. But here’s the catch: The greatest wellness program in the world won’t have the desired impact if details aren’t communicated well, tied into a benefit plan’s design, and effectively incented (carrot and/or stick) to engage employees. There are two distinct aspects to a wellness initiative.

  • Disease Management—metric bearing programs (e.g., biometrics, health assessments, online coaching, annual physicals, etc.)
  • Lifestyle Management—activities and programs (e.g., walking, weight management, stress management, etc.) that promote and support the primary disease management initiatives.

Any component of a wellness program will have minimal impact if it’s promoted by just one memo or poster. It needs to be communicated often and in an easy-to-understand and impactful way. Consistency and repetition are key. The value and ROI of a wellness program is dependent upon creating and executing a holistic broad-based strategy that is wrapped up in a tight and easily understood package. The message must be continuously integrated into an organization’s culture through regular communications throughout the year, every year. 

Our clients often tell us they want to be a “best (healthiest) place to work” because they believe it will help their recruiting efforts. They’re right! Wellness can help recruiting efforts, but only if a program is well planned and executed.

Cassidy is director of wellness with Corporate Synergies, a national group employee benefits insurance broker.

5 Comments

Posted by: Zola D | March 28, 2014 1:18 AM

Being uncomfortable towards your co-workers makes you feel uneasy. To build a nice relationship tries communicating with them during break time. Be friendly and know your limit so that you avoided committing mistakes. Source: a rel='nofollow' href="https://personalmoneynetwork.com/"Visit us./a

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Posted by: Justin S | February 10, 2014 10:05 AM

Al and Vik, way to circle the waters looking for blood... Speak to anyone who has had early signs of cancer identified because of their wellness screening or an employee who found out they have diabetes after their wellness program ran an A1C on them; what value do you think they put in their employer's wellness program? Then ask a CFO who found out 1/3 of their population was pre-diabetic or fully diabetic and how they will use that data to aggressively make changes in communicating the benefits of health with their population and within their benefit plan and prescription coverage; you honestly can't tell me there aren't savings to be found there. The data is real regardless of how much to the contrary you can dig up, a healthy employee will cost less to your health plan and be more engaged and productive throughout the course of their employment. We see it every day.

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Posted by: Vik K | February 6, 2014 3:00 PM

A trite and predictable post about an endeavor that crumbles a little more each day. That alone is enough to dismiss it. But, then there are the merits of dismissal, which are legion. Lifestyle-related, clinically based wellness programs are a wasteful lie, with no evidence, except fabricated data, to show for decades of work at supposedly saving money and live. Al Lewis and I show this irrefutably in our new book: Surviving Workplace Wellness, available now at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Workplace-Wellness-Dignity-Finances-ebook/dp/B00HZR2EBE/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)

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Posted by: Al L | February 6, 2014 12:53 PM

So why did Penn State and CVS employees revolt against their programs, and why if these programs are so good, do employees have to be paid to participate?

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Posted by: didi l | February 6, 2014 8:42 AM

Excellent insights on overall employee wellness in the workplace. Wellness programs take on other forms, and many HR departments are taking it a step further, with incorporating programs that go beyond diet and exercise. For instance, financial wellness is growing in the workplace, to include programs in partnerships with portfolio managers and financial advisors. There are other programs that are truly innovative and designed specifically for the workplace such as Taxes at Work, which is growing in a lot of companies. What remains is maintaining a balance that makes sense for the employee benefit package when it comes to wellness.

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