Workplace wellness: a win-win for employers and employees

When you hear about workplace wellness, you may think of companies enlisting employees in special programs or activities to help them eat healthier or exercise more. Maybe you picture employees lined up to get their blood pressure taken or cholesterol checked. Sometimes these activities are met with points or other rewards for participating employees.

But workplace wellness isn’t about getting employees to participate in short-term programs or activities to hit quotas; it’s about the environment employees participate in each day.

Most adults spend roughly half of their waking hours, five days a week, at work. It’s no surprise then that a job can affect a person’s overall health.

In fact, research shows that the workplace environment affects 70% of the wellness decisions workers make each day. This includes:

  • How much physical activity an employee gets
  • The food they eat
  • How much sleep they get
  • Their overall emotional health

As the beneficiaries of so much of their employees’ time and energy, it’s in an organization’s best interest to protect and promote employee wellness. As it turns out, doing so can benefit everyone involved.

Engagement at work

Research shows that healthy employees have one significant thing in common: They are engaged at work.

Engaged employees say they:

  • Get to use their strengths when they come to work each day
  • Feel respected by their supervisor and colleagues
  • Feel their work is appreciated
  • Are cared for as a person and a professional in the workplace
  • Have opportunities to learn and grow in their job

Gallup has recently uncovered other interesting trends in employee engagement and employee wellness.

Gallup found that engaged employees eat healthier, for instance. They consume more fruits and vegetables than disengaged employees. Engaged employees also exercise more frequently and have a lower incidence of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression and heart attacks.

Stress at work

Stress is among the most prevalent contributors to chronic disease. In fact, stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease and accidents, and can account for three quarters of a person’s health care bills.

Providing employees with tools to manage stress can improve their long-term health and lower their health care costs, which can in turn make them more productive and engaged at work.

Bottom line benefits

Research shows that organizations that keep their employees engaged reap many benefits, including:

  • Higher profitability
  • Lower turnover (engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their jobs) 
  • Higher product quality
  • Increased customer satisfaction

Indeed, organizations can positively affect their employees’ health, their customers’ experiences with their products or services and their own bottom line by keeping employees engaged and helping them manage stress at work. Organizations can start on that path by implementing a corporate wellness program.

Sanford Health Plan offers many tools to help implement a culture of wellness. Learn more here.

Questions for employees and leaders to consider regarding their organization’s current wellness program (or lack thereof): 

  • Does your organization talk about employee engagement? Does it recognize the value of keeping employees engaged and make an active effort to do so?
  • Do the leaders of your organization know what causes stress for employees? What are they doing about it?
  • Do your organization’s employees know where they can turn if they are feeling overwhelmed by stress at work?
  • What everyday wellness benefits are available in the form of gym discounts, healthy workplace snacks or onsite classes?

To learn how Sanford Health Plan can help your organization build a culture of wellness, call (888) 493-0985 or visit sanfordhealthplan.com/business.

Gallup, Inc Employee Engagement Report