It’s a simple fact that most employers face increasing healthcare costs. One way to address the impact of rising costs is to encourage the workforce to become healthier through personal wellness plans. When employees take an active role in their health and wellness, the chances decrease that they will have complicated conditions that require costly treatments. Beyond the economic motivation for companies to encourage wellness plans, healthy employees are happier and more productive, too.
In 2016, a Harvard Business Review study found that companies without wellness programs saw a 7% increase in healthcare costs as a national average. They also found that companies with wellness programs only saw a 1-2% increase. Additionally, it found that business outcomes of successful wellness programs include decreased absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, and worker productivity, and higher employee retention.
But wellness programs are not just about cost and bottom-line results. Successful wellness plans that help employees stop smoking, lose weight, and avoid or manage chronic conditions (including diabetes and high blood pressure) also improve personal health and safety practices like seatbelt use, sleep hygiene, and stress management. The key to any wellness program is to ensure employees can feel personally invested in their own wellbeing.
Building a Personal Wellness Plan that Works
Carrots and sticks can only motivate so much. Instead of forcing someone to join a wellness program, encourage employees to address the health and wellness concerns that feel most relevant to them. A successful personalized wellness program will make an employee feel energized and self-motivated to reach their personal wellness goals.
The influence of peers can be positive. Employers can facilitate the sharing of personal wellness successes, which motivate others to take their health and wellness into their own hands. One way Marathon Health encourages people to share their stories is through the Healthy Like Me program, which recognizes and awards ten people each quarter for making significant progress with their health and wellness. Positive peer influence is also a factor in competitions. Employees are energized by friendly competition with tangible and attainable goals. Marathon Health’s Winning at Losing program gives guidance and personalized attention to participants over twelve weeks during a weight-loss competition to see who can lose the largest percentage of body weight.
Employers can also find ways to make it easy for employees to develop, and stick with, their personal wellness plans by organizing walking groups and exercise programs, and by making sure healthy eating options are available in vending machines and cafeterias.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual employee to develop and maintain a personal wellness plan but employers can urge, energize, incentivize, reward, and celebrate their employees’ initiative to improve their wellbeing, and it is bound to pay off for the company sooner rather than later.