The recent assumption that a dollar invested in wellness pays off three- to five-fold is giving way to a more enlightened (and credible) viewpoint that workplace wellness programs offer tremendous value to businesses.
Here are five reasons why I believe that employers should think about investing in wellness programs (none of them are to decrease medical costs!).
1. They Foster Employee Morale
Have you ever spoken to employees who are truly engaged in a work-sponsored wearable device program? I have. The buzz is palpable, and the enthusiasm is genuine. Add to the mix inter-departmental competition and you can almost see the team spirit bursting at the seams. When you witness it — it’s pretty powerful. I don’t always see this. In fact, I only see it when the company commitment is genuine, substantive and sustained. But when it’s there, it’s undeniable.
2. They Improve Absenteeism
Wellness offsets many of the medical conditions that result in absences. Cold symptoms, lower back pain and stress symptoms all improve under successful wellness programs. Companies are just beginning to measure this. There’s a powerful relationship here that businesses need to better understand.
3. They Improve Presenteeism
Presenteeism is the lost productivity that occurs when people are on the job but not feeling well. It’s the twinge in the lower back. It’s the sedating side-effect from the medication. It’s the nagging wheezing and tightness in the chest that an asthmatic struggles with as she goes house-to-house checking water meters. Wellness programs have a profound impact on this important cause of lost productivity. Difficult to measure, but profound, nonetheless.
4. They Are Part of Human Capital Maintenance and Upkeep
Company leaders often say “our people are our greatest asset,” but many don’t act like it. Companies should recognize their workforce is an investment in the same way that they recognize expensive equipment or facilities are investments. You need to spend the money for the care and maintenance of your people.
5. They Are a Hallmark of Successful Companies
My friend Dr. Raymond Fabius, recently published a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.The study compared publicly traded companies who won the prestigious Corporate Health Achievement Award with companies in the S&P 500. He looked at stock prices over a 15-year period. The study concludes that:
A portfolio of companies recognized as award-winning for their approach to the health and safety of their workforce outperformed the market. Evidence seems to support that building cultures of health and safety provides a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This research may have also identified an association between companies that focus on health and safety and companies that manage other aspects of their business equally well. Companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce yield greater value for their investors.
This post was originally published May 28, 2015.