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September 10, 2019

5 employee wellness initiatives that work

Jeff Lightner

Workplace wellness initiatives create positive results. Companies across the U.S. and beyond are initiating wellness programs to help reduce health care costs and improve employee engagement. Wellness initiatives help employees lead healthier lives which in turn can improve productivity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 46 percent of U.S. employers offer a wellness program. However, the CDC cautions that very few worksites offer comprehensive programs. The report states that conditions such as obesity and heart disease can be improved through workplace wellness programs.

Here are five wellness initiatives that your employees will likely find engaging and effective:

1.  Physical exercise programs                                                  There are many ways an employer can offer onsite fitness. Perhaps the first type of program most people think of is an onsite fitness center with exercise machines, weights and other exercise equipment. Some corporate fitness centers include a swimming pool, rock-climbing wall and access to personal trainers. Alternatives to onsite fitness centers include:

  • Walking clubs or contests
  • Bicycling incentives
  • Bike-sharing program that provides bicycles for employees who want to cycle instead of drive
  • Yoga, meditation and other exercise classes
  • Shower facilities and locker rooms for those who like to work out during lunch
  • Employer-sponsored gym memberships or personal trainer sessions

2.  Smoking cessation programs                                              Most health care insurance programs offer pharmaceutical assistance to employees. Some employers take smoking cessation programs to the next level with coaching for employees who want to quit smoking. 

3.  Paramedical services                                                          Some companies offer paramedical services, like massage therapy or health screenings, to their employees while they’re at work. Bringing a health care professional into the workplace is a positive initiative because it adds another level of credibility to the overall wellness program. Onsite health clinics are effective because employees don’t have to take time to travel to and from an appointment and wait in the lobby to see a physician. 

4.  Health education                                                                     Health education is one of the most important wellness initiatives employers can offer. Whether it’s brown bag lunch classes or an afternoon workshop, it’s important for employees to understand the relationship between a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise and disease prevention. 

5.  Employee assistance programs                                             Wellness includes taking care of the mind as well as the body. Many employees benefit from confidential support for issues like stress, substance abuse, depression, marital upset and anxiety. Some employees need extra assistance outside of the workplace to get the help they need to perform their best at work. By providing extra support through an employee assistance program, companies can communicate a certain level of empathy and support for their employees, thus boosting trust and confidence between the employer and employee.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can be challenging and take considerable effort. Improvements in the health of an employee directly impact the workplace in a positive way. Considering the amount of time employees spend at the workplace, it makes sense for employers to sponsor wellness programs. As the notion of work-life balance increasingly and appropriately takes center stage, employers will make an effort to offer workplace wellness programs as a recruitment and retention tool. Large or small, all businesses can benefit from some form of workplace wellness initiative.

Employer-provided benefits are no longer limited to just insurance plans. Today, leading employers need to offer comprehensive programs of benefits. Marsh & McLennan Agency offers employers unparalleled solutions to help your company comply with regulations and manage costs while still providing quality benefits. Contact your local representative to learn more.