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Today’s Key to Improving Employee Performance—Workplace Wellness

Considering an innovative approach to workplace wellness can improve organizational performance
By: Andrew Scott
July 6th, 2017

Employers have long suspected that a healthy worker is a more productive worker. But the idea of addressing health has broadened over the years. So much so, that it now encompasses much more than preventing work-related injuries.

Times have changed. Today, innovative workplace wellness programs are necessary for strong organizational performance.

Why you should be changing your workplace wellness approach

Over the past few decades, chronic conditions have spiked much due to poor health behaviors.  Unfortunately, poor health habits have become a major burden on the quality of life, healthcare systems, and the workplace.

Typically “lifestyle diseases,” such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and diseases associated with smoking, alcohol, and drug use, are thought of as affecting older age groups. However, today’s active workforce has become increasingly affected by these types of diseases forcing employers to adopt strategies that address the effects on employee health and well-being, engagement, and overall performance.

Not only is health an issue in today’s worker, but so is employee engagement.  According to the most recent Gallup1 report, State of the American Workplace, 70% of employees are not engaged. The relationship between employees’ well-being and their engagement levels should be motivating you to change your approach to employee engagement.

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.

According to the most recent Gallup1 report, State of the American Workplace, 70% of employees are not engaged.

Working adults spend one-third of their day at work. What better place to address health needs than the workplace? The workplace can either be a source of influence for poor health behaviors or it can be a favorable place to promote healthy habits and improve engagement.

The current workplace wellness approach

Currently, roughly half of all U.S. employers offer some type of wellness program or initiative, most of which help manage lifestyles aimed at preventing chronic disease.2  Traditional programs address a wide variety of employee health issues with the goal of tackling rising healthcare costs.

In fact, a large number of organizations identify health and productivity as being essential to an organizations risk management strategy and expect  their commitment to these areas to increase significantly in the coming years.3

Evidence on the impact wellness programs have on health-related behaviors is building, as well as on healthcare use and medical costs.  Compared to organizations not offering wellness programs, those implementing wellness programs experience continuous improvements in exercise frequency, smoking behavior, and weight management, in addition to expressing confidence that the programs reduced medical costs, absenteeism, and health-related productivity losses.2

Establishing wellness programs in the workplace also appears to be the key to increasing employee performance. 

Employees who participate in wellness programs report higher levels of well-being, are more engaged, more satisfied with their role, and are more productive while at work.4

The challenge many organizations are experiencing is limited participation and engagement among employees; on average 20% of employees will participate in wellness programs without incentives.  Low participation and the need for further financial motivation to get more employees to participate make it difficult for organizations to truly get the most out of their wellness programs.  Organizations

Organizations need to think beyond traditional wellness approaches to not only improve employee health and engagement but to also increase overall performance.

 

An innovative workplace wellness approach

We have a rapidly changing workforce with different needs that most current workplace wellness approaches do not meet.  This change challenges organizations to identify, attract, and retain talent at a time when workers are feeling less and less committed to a single employer, healthcare costs are on the rise, along with a growing expectation to be more competitive, agile, and profitable.

Failing to adapt to the lifestyle needs of our new generation of workers could hinder overall organizational performance.  An innovative workplace wellness approach views workplace well-being as a much broader scope that not only improves employee health outcomes but also increases overall organizational performance.

Now more than ever, organizations are trying to find ways to create cultures that attract, motivate, and engage employees while improving employee health and increase performance.

Interestingly, there are a core set of elements commonly found among healthy, higher-performing organizations.  These organizations lead with clearly defined PURPOSE to empower their PEOPLE. They have strategic PLANS to operate with effective PRACTICES and POLICIES to show their commitment to a culture of health that maximises PERFORMANCE!

Organizations incorporating these elements increase the likelihood of establishing a sustainable culture of well-being that promotes healthier, happier, and more engaged employees, along with improved performance.

It is important to note that employee well-being is not a one-size-fits-all model.  Each organization is unique and differs in how much time, attention, energy, and resources are devoted to each component. The key to establishing a sustainable culture of well-being and becoming a healthy, high-performing organization is determining your appropriate combination of the 5 Ps.

What is your organization’s blend of the 5 Ps?

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  1. Gallup. (2017). State of the American workplace.
  2. 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
  3. WillisTowersWatson. (2016). Improving workforce health and productivity. Retrieved from https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en/insights/2016/04/2015-2016-staying-at-work-united-states-research-findings
  4. Economist Intelligence Unit. (2015). The wellness effect: The impact of workplace programmes. Retrieved from https://www.eiuperspectives.economist.com/sites/default/files/EIU_Humana_Wellness_fin_0.pdf
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