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70% of Our Employees Are Not Engaged

Establishing Workplace Wellness Programs and Practices Could Lower that Number
By: Andrew Scott
July 25th, 2017

Companies today are looking for a competitive edge when it comes to all aspects of running a successful, sustainable business.

Although organizations can do many things to ensure long-term success, there is one common factor found in a majority of thriving organizations.

75% of all high-performing organizations recognize (and track) employee health status as an fundamental component to their overall risk management strategy.1

Given a majority (59%) of the over 150 million Americans2 in the workplace today are on an employer-sponsored health plan, organizations need to address employee well-being as part of their overall business strategy.

It couldn’t come at a better time as half of all adults in the U.S. are afflicted with at least one chronic condition and account for 86% of all healthcare spend.3,4

The degradation of health puts a strain on employees as well as their employers who are often bearing the burden of cost for these chronic diseases/conditions.  In fact, the average cost for coverage offered by an employer has risen over 200% since 2000.5

In order to offset the rise in coverage, many organizations have responded with cost-cutting measures.  Business leaders have begun to reduce (or freeze) wage increases, reduce health insurance benefits, or require employees to pay a greater share of the costs.

Not only does this put more strain on the employee financially, but it also leads to a more disenchanted workforce.

This could be detrimental to organizations as 70% of employees are not engaged.6

Poor health leads to poor employee engagement

Interestingly, there is a strong relationship between employees’ well-being, engagement levels, and business results.  Employees who are engaged are not only more productive, profitable, and more likely to stay with the company, but they also are less likely to be absent and have fewer chronic health issues due to better health habits equating to lower healthcare costs.

Employees who are engaged are not only more productive, profitable, and more likely to stay with the company, but they also are less likely to be absent and have fewer chronic health issues due to better health habits equating to lower healthcare costs.

Knowing that organizations are battling two epidemics, chronic disease and employee disengagement, wellness in the workplace appears to be a perfect component to the overall business strategy.

Current practices are essential, but there’s more that can be done

Today, nearly 70% of businesses in the U.S. offer some type of employee wellness program or activity.7

Programs and activities vary between organizations but are often comprised of multiple components such as weight management, diet/nutrition, physical activity, stress management, tobacco-cessation, health screenings, and more.

Businesses are adopting varied programs with the understanding and expectation of a payoff.  This has been proven, as researchers have found that for every dollar spent on workplace health promotion programs, more than triple the savings have been observed in medical costs.8

Employers are also experiencing a reduction in other costs such as less absenteeism, greater collaboration, and healthier, happier employees who are more productive.

Even so, some objectors have collectively railed against wellness in the workplace asserting that they are not only worthless but are unproductive, invasive and even demoralizing. This view is limited to programs that are done on employees; almost in a punitive, controlling way.

Programs and practices should not be something done TO employees but should be done WITH and FOR employees.

Programs should not only address the health needs of employees; they also help organizations tangibly demonstrate their support for the health of their employees.

Effective wellness programs and practices within the workplace should be health-enhancing and be motivating to employees; intrinsically part of the organization’s culture.

Health and wellness practices should be embedded throughout the organizational structure.  This will help wellness practices become more familiar to employees as part of the culture which will increase traction and buy-in.  Also, it is important for practices and programs to be guided by science and built to meet the needs of the employees and addressing organizational goals.

Focus on the people in your organization to determine your practices

When it comes to wellness programs and practices in the workplace, the things your organization do and why you do them matters.  Creating programs/practices in the workplace is very important as a majority of an employee’s awake time is spent at work.

If the work environment is not supportive of a healthy lifestyle, it can derail one’s health as well as performance.

Knowing that health impacts many facets of individual and organizational function, the purpose of wellness programs in the workplace is not limited to decreasing the risk of disease and improving quality of life, it establishes a culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle and ignites higher performance.

The success of an organization is directly influenced by the health and well-being of its employees.  As leaders are looking for a competitive edge, it is paramount that they invest in their employees.

Offering wellness programs for their employees is a great way to help mitigate rising healthcare costs and improve the culture resulting in healthier, happier, more engaged and productive employees equating to improved overall performance.

For more information about P5 Performance™, find us on LinkedIn | Facebook Twitter Instagram
We can also be contacted at 4141 28th Ave S, Fargo, ND 58104 | (701) 271-0263

  1. Chenoweth, D. (2011). Wellness strategies to improve employee health, performance and the bottom line. SHRM Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/foundation/ourwork/initiatives/resources-from-past-initiatives/Documents/Wellness%20Strategies%20to%20Improve%20Employee%20Health.pdf
  2. KFF. (2017). Employer-sponsored coverage rates for the nonelderly by age. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/rate-by-age-2/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
  3. CDC. (2016). Chronic diseases overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm
  4. Gerteis, J., Izrael, D., Deitz, D., LeRoy, L., Ricciardi, R., Miller, T. & Basu, J. Multiple chronic conditions chartbook. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Q14-0038.
  5. KFF. (2016). Employer health benefits: 2016 annual survey. Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. Retrieved from https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/employer-health-benefits-2016-summary-of-findings.pdf
  6. Gallup. (2017). State of the American workplace.
  7. Mattke, S., Liu, H., Caloyeras, J., Huang, C.Y., Van Busum, K.R., Khodyakov, D. et al. (2013). Workplace wellness programs study. RAND Health. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR254.html
  8. Baicker, K., Cutler, D. & Song, Z. (2010). Workplace wellness programs can generate savings. HealthAffairs, 29(2), 304-11.
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