a man researching workplace wellness programs ability to reduce workers' comp costs

A Workplace Wellness Program Can Increase Employee Satisfaction & Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs

A workplace wellness program offers clearly defined policies and activities which promote employee well-being. These may include informational sessions or hands-on activities.

Studies show increasing employee well-being increases employee retention, morale, and productivity. It also reduces workers’ compensation claims, administrative costs, and minimizes your premiums.

Basically, healthy employees cost you less.

Return on Investment

Evidence shows workplace wellness programs offer a concrete return on investment. Consequently, some companies now integrate them into their strategic planning.

A Harvard Business Review study revealed that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on healthcare costs within 6 years, or $2.71 for every dollar spent. Many other companies report similar returns. These programs reduce risk, absenteeism, and workers’ compensation costs.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act and some states offer tax incentives and grants which can reduce healthcare costs, particularly important for an aging workforce.

Creating a Wellness Program

Increasing employee wellness involves prevention, risk management, and an effective wellness program. An effective program involves all levels of leadership, persistence, and persuasion.

Align your wellness program with your company’s mission and realize that change takes time. You must provide an engaging program if you want employees to participate and address their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Collect Data

Distribute health risk assessment questionnaires to employees to analyze trends. They provide valuable information regarding your employee’s quality of life and specific challenges.

Employers may also offer blood pressure checks to identify risk for hypertension, glucose testing to identify risk for diabetes, and a BMI analysis to identify weight issues. This data can help your organization identify low, medium, and high-risk employees so you an offer appropriate solutions.

Focus on High-Risk Behaviors

Look for commonalities in claims, health screenings, and surveys. Focus on ways you can provide the most benefit to the people at most risk.

According to the 2017 Hub International Workplace Wellness Trends report “high-risk individuals (too much body fat, high blood pressure and anxiety, smoking, and other problems) are three times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.” Therefore, focusing on manageable and preventable conditions can reduce workers’ compensation claims and medical costs.

For instance, a 2010 Duke University study found obese workers filed twice as many workers’ compensation claims, have higher medical costs by sevenfold, and missed 13 times more days of work. Employee wellness programs focused on diet, exercise, and weight management could lower these figures substantially.

According to LexisNexis, the most common wellness programs offer assistance with weight control, smoking cessation, depression, migraine headaches, and substance abuse. However, many companies offer programs for disease management, too. Tailor your offerings to your employee needs.

Use Multiple Platforms for Communication

Technology offers an affordable and effective way to communicate with employees. Your website, social media, emails, and SMS alongside your traditional methods increases reach within a varied demographic.

Many wellness apps also increase awareness and provide employees with coaching, support, and accountability to help them achieve their goals. Some also allow employers to track data.

Cultivate a Wellness Culture

An effective wellness program encourages employee participation and encompasses all aspects of wellness including emotional, physical, mental, and financial challenges.

If stress is a major factor in your industry, take steps to specifically alleviate it such as offering stress management courses or interactive activities such as meditation, Tai Chi, or yoga. If financial issues continually interfere with employee performance, offer budgeting, debt management, and investment training. If employees sit before a computer daily, weight management may be appropriate.

Ensure Accessibility

Employers should try to offer classes at no-cost, or for a very low fee. It is important all employees have an opportunity to participate, no matter their financial situation.

Even if employees do not choose to participate, just knowing you offer the chance to do so can improve morale.

Medical Care Savings

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimates savings of an effective workplace wellness program could reduce average annual costs per working-age adult by 18.4%. Your company may save even more (27.9%) in medical care costs for working adults between the ages of 60 and 64.

A report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirms “workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, premature morbidity, and mortality as well as healthcare costs in the United States.”

Employee Satisfaction

A meta-analysis of workplace wellness programs found they consistently lowered absenteeism, increased employee satisfaction, and worked well to attract new talent and retain employees. Physical fitness and exercise also reduces stress.

Workplace wellness programs can identify potential problems and improve quality of life. Healthy employees are happy employees who perform well, stay with your company, and speak well about your brand.

A workplace wellness program is also a very smart business investment, so integrate it into your strategic planning to reduce costs and realize your corporate goals.