Having a corporate wellness program in your workplace can bring substantial benefits to both your employees and your company. Whether you’re looking to incorporate a new corporate wellness program for your employees, or improve your existing program, here’s everything that you need to know.
- The Employee Health Problem
- Corporate Wellness Programs Overview
i) The Importance of Corporate Wellness Programs
ii) What’s the Purpose of a Corporate Wellness Program?
iii) What Does a Good Corporate Wellness Program Include?
iv) Benefits of Corporate Wellness Programs
– Benefits to Employers
– Benefits to Employees
- How to Implement a Corporate Wellness Program
i) Steps to Create a Corporate Wellness Program
ii) Using Internal Resources
iii) Using an Outside Agency
iv) Internal Resources vs. Outside Agency: Which is Better?
v) How Much do Corporate Wellness Programs Cost?
The Employee Health Problem
Common health issues are increasing absenteeism rates in the Canadian workforce and are costing employers huge amounts of money in lost productivity. A report by the Public Health Agency of Canada points out that chronic disease rates are increasing by 14% every year in Canada and 3 out of every 5 Canadians over the age of 20 are living with a chronic disease. Treatment of chronic disease costs the Canadian economy $122 billion annually in lost productivity.
Statistics Canada recently reported that the average rate of absenteeism among Canadian organizations was 10 days per full-time employee in 2018. In 2011, Canadian companies lost an estimated total of $16.6 billion due to absenteeism alone! As the Canadian workforce continues to age and chronic diseases become even more prevalent, it’s clear that organizations will need to find an effective way to manage the health of their employees.
Corporate Wellness Programs Overview
The Importance of Corporate Wellness Programs
Having an established corporate wellness program is important for every company, especially when it comes to managing employee health problems such as chronic disease. For example, a 2017 study pointed out that during the 24-week period of the study, employees who exercised at least 150 minutes per week only missed 5 hours from work, on average. Employees who exercised between 70 and 149 minutes per week missed 11 hours of work, and those that exercised less than 70 minutes per week missed 19 hours of work.
This study shows that a well-rounded, effective corporate wellness program can help employees improve their overall health. This in turn will lower their risk of chronic disease, and reduce employee absenteeism due to unplanned illness.
What’s the Purpose of a Corporate Wellness Program?
Corporate wellness programs, sometimes called employee wellness programs, are designed to establish a work environment that promotes employee’s holistic well-being by creating an organizational health culture. Some examples include changing the physical working environment, implementing new policies and wellness programs, holding seminars about healthy lifestyle choices, and holding company events to boost employee morale and build relationships with other co-workers.
Employers may consider corporate wellness programs for different reasons. Some of the most common reasons include: managing chronic disease in the workforce, boosting employee morale and productivity, reducing absenteeism and high turnover rates, increasing job satisfaction and engagement, and reducing employee medical costs.
What Does a Good Corporate Wellness Program Include?
A well-rounded, high-quality and effective corporate wellness program includes much more than just gym membership coverage or an office kitchen. Here are some essential activities and solutions to cover all areas of a good corporate wellness program:
- Biometric screenings
- Workplace flu clinics
- Group workshop seminars
- Fitness activities
- Flexible health spending accounts
- Mental health & stress management
- Social and team-building activities
Companies can offer biometric screening assessments for their employees in order to create an in-depth, data driven snapshot of the overall health of their employees. From there, the necessary actions can be taken to address any health concerns within the workforce. Biometric screenings often include a personal consultation with a Registered Nurse, along with biomarker tests like blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, heart health tests, and more.
Workplace flu clinics
If one of your employees contracts the flu, it can take them 7 to 10 days to fully recover and come back to work. The chances of the flu virus being spread among co-workers is quite high since symptoms typically appear 1 to 4 days after an individual has been exposed to the virus. As a result, companies often choose to organize a corporate flu clinic. Corporate flu clinics offer a convenient way for employees to get their flu shot, which in turn helps reduce absenteeism rates. It also allows employers to track which employees have gotten their flu shots.
Group wellness workshop seminars
Group workshops are an important part of corporate wellness programs. A subject matter expert will come to your organization and present information about a specified topic, providing useful information for your employees and addressing any questions they may have. Group workshop seminars often last from one to two hours and are intended to help employees make healthy life choices. These seminars can address numerous health matters, but most of the time they are related to common issues affecting employees, such as smoking cessation, nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management.
Here’s where the gym membership comes into play. Fitness activities can include on-site gym or yoga classes, reimbursement of fitness-related purchases such as gym memberships or gym equipment, and holding exercise and weight management workshops.
Some companies also include incentives in their fitness programs to encourage employees to participate. One example is using a Fitbit, or other wearable technology, to track employees’ fitness activity and reward the most active people.
Flexible health spending accounts
Employers can use flexible health spending accounts (FSA) to set aside a fixed amount of money that employees can use on a set of approved expenses. Funds in a flexible health spending account can be used for all medical expenses approved by the CRA, plus any expenses chosen by the company to support a healthy lifestyle such as gym memberships, personal training, sunglasses, teeth whitening, etc. With a FSA, employers provide employees with a list of available benefits and a spending account that has a set amount of credits or funds per year.
Mental health & stress management
Stress at work is pretty common, and constant stress can trigger serious health problems. Companies can help employees manage their stress in the workplace by holding mindfulness and stress management seminars, offering on-site yoga classes, on-site massage therapy, meditation classes, and much more. Flexible work hours and team-building activities are also extremely effective.
Social and team-building activities
Team-building activities are important for employees to get to know their colleagues better, help lower stress, improve work productivity, and create a healthier, more harmonious working environment. Some activities of this sort can include after-work game nights, office book clubs, company year-end dinners, or get-together events for special occasions.
Benefits of Corporate Wellness Programs
An effective corporate wellness program can bring about a number of benefits for both employers and employees alike.
Benefits to Employers
If you’re wondering why you need a corporate wellness program, you should know that good corporate wellness programs don’t just benefit the individual employees, but they actually have a significant impact on the organization as a whole. Here are a few examples of how corporate wellness programs can directly benefit employers.
- Improve recruitment, increase retention, reduce turnover
A good corporate wellness program can help companies achieve key Human Resources goals; improving recruitment, increasing retention, and reducing employee turnover. Figures from Monster.ca pointed out that 88% of workers see great value in having a corporate wellness program in the workplace. Candidates also tend to consider the job’s employee benefit plan in addition to the salary range when they choose a company.
- Reduce absenteeism rates
Companies that offer wellness programs that include fitness and mental health activities, or corporate flu clinics, tend to experience less absenteeism since their employees are healthier and working under less pressure.
- Lower employee benefit costs
A report from Aon showed the medical costs in Canada increased by 6% in 2018, which is three times the inflation rate. A comprehensive corporate wellness program offering workplace flu clinics and gym membership coverage, for example, will help lower these benefit costs because it will help prevent employees from getting sick.
- Enhance corporate image
A corporate wellness program can show that the company cares about its employees and takes extra effort to ensure a good working environment for their staff. This helps promote a strong corporate image and will facilitate good word of mouth about the company.
Benefits to Employees
In order for a company to be successful, they need to have happy, healthy, and productive employees. We’ve discussed how corporate wellness programs benefit employers; now let’s take a look at a few examples of how corporate wellness programs can benefit the individual employees of a company.
- Increase awareness of health risks
Having a corporate wellness program with healthy eating and tobacco cessation workshops, for example, can help employees understand the importance of health and wellness. Workshops and fitness activities can also help employees adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours.
- Reduce the risk of disease
Corporate wellness programs reduce absenteeism rates within companies, and they do this by reducing an employee’s risk of disease. By using workplace flu clinics, biometric screenings, healthy living seminars, and other corporate wellness initiatives, employees become equipped to choose healthier lifestyle choices which in turn will reduce their risk of disease.
- Boost employee morale and productivity
Corporate wellness programs can make employees feel appreciated and valued, and they will be much more enthusiastic and confident at work. This will then increase work productivity and benefit both the employees and the company as a whole.
- Build relationship among employees
Activities such as volunteer day, organizing book clubs, or hosting on-site yoga classes can help employees interact with each other. This facilitates networking and bonding and will help build teamwork among co-workers and increase work productivity as a result.
How to Implement a Corporate Wellness Program
There are two main ways of implementing a corporate wellness program; you can either implement one yourself internally, or hire an outside agency to help. Each method has its own pros and cons, which we’ll take a look at in more detail. However, no matter which route you choose, it’s important that you take the right steps to ensure your program is successful. Here are some key things to consider before implementing your corporate wellness program.
Steps to Create a Corporate Wellness Program
- Research employee health problems and set goals – Before setting up a corporate wellness program, make sure you understand how it will help your company and the staff. You can do some initial research to see what the current problems are, how the corporate wellness program can help, and then set goals for the project accordingly.
- Create a corporate wellness project team – After setting up goals for the corporate wellness project, assemble a team to take care of the tasks that need to be done. The team will likely be led by Human Resources because it’s directly related to employees’ wellbeing, but make sure to include anyone who would want to help promote the program.
- Plan the details of your corporate wellness program – Now that you’ve collected data and created a project team, you can start brainstorming ideas and create a comprehensive plan to deliver your corporate wellness program. Make sure to include any budget allowances, an execution strategy, and all necessary time frames.
- Plan your communications – Once all of the details are figured out for your new corporate wellness program, make sure it’s announced to all employees so that they understand the importance of the program and what to expect.
- Execute the program – Once you have your plan in place and everything has been communicated to your employees, it’s time to start implementing the corporate wellness program. Remember to track data regularly and continuously ask employees for feedback.
- Update and optimize the program – Your corporate wellness program might have positive results right away, but there’s also the chance that it will need some adjustments. This is where employee feedback comes into play—make sure you ask employees for their feedback and new ideas so you can continue to optimize your corporate wellness program and tailor it to their specific needs.
Using Internal Resources
Companies may choose to create a corporate wellness program from scratch. This is often feasible if you plan simple activities in your program that don’t require help from outside specialists. Some examples of internal corporate wellness initiatives include changing company policies to address certain health issues, creating social groups based on hobbies to enhance employees’ camaraderie, or setting an annual volunteer day where employees can use a paid work day to volunteer at an organization.
Using an Outside Agency
Hiring a corporate wellness service provider will be more suitable for activities that involve the help of specialists, such as holding health and wellness workshops, organizing biometric screening assessments, or hosting seasonal flu vaccination clinics.
Working with an agency is often necessary because there can be restrictions and extensive processes required to carry out certain programs, making it difficult for companies to organize these programs by themselves. For example, if you want to offer a workplace flu vaccination clinic, you have to submit an application to the government, the vaccination needs to be administered by a regulated health professional, and the vaccinations need to be stored in a designated fridge set to a specific temperature. This is often not possible for a company to manage, so it is much more feasible to outsource the work to an outside agency.
In order to choose the best corporate wellness agency for your organization’s needs, make sure you consider these key factors:
- Types of Services Offered – Look for a company that offers customizable programs based on your organizations objectives and goals. Avoid providers that only deliver one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t take into account the specific needs of your employees.
- Quality of Services Offered – To know whether a provider provides services with high quality, you should look at several factors such as the number of years they’ve been offering the service, whether they are an accredited healthcare provider, what kinds of policies and procedures they have in place, and so on.
- Previous Client Testimonials – This is a great way of checking whether the agency you’re researching is actually a good fit for your company. Look for testimonials that are specific to the services you’re interested in, and if necessary, ask the company if any of their past clients will act as a reference for you to speak with.
- Pricing – If you’re comparing several corporate wellness providers, it’s going to be helpful to look at the price of similar services. However, pricing shouldn’t be the main factor for your decision; what really matters is the types and quality of the services offered, their policies and procedures, and your overall satisfaction.
Internal Resources vs. Outside Agency: Which is Better?
Even if you already know the activities you want to include in your corporate wellness program, it could be difficult to decide whether you want to implement it using your internal resources or through an agency. To make your life easier, here are some advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Using Internal Resources
- Get to use your own staff.
- No costs incurred from hiring a third-party vendor.
- Have complete control over every aspect of the program.
- Lack data and experience in building a successful program. Staff assigned to the project will need to learn by trial and error to organize a successful program.
- Lack expertise; can’t organize programs that call for specialists such as biometric screening assessments or flu clinics.
- Most of the time staff will need to work on the wellness program in addition to their regular job responsibilities. Your staff simply might not have the time to execute a full corporate wellness program from scratch.
- Building a program from scratch may cost more than hiring a third-party provider because you’re responsible for all aspects of the program, which may involve things like building a booking platform, something that outside agencies would offer inclusively.
- Potential conflict of interest or low participation rate may take place when employees have to report their personal health information to a co-worker.
Using an Outside Agency
- Suitable for programs that call for specialists such as biometric screening assessments or flu clinics.
- May cost less than building a program from scratch depending on the specific service.
- Wellness providers know what it takes to build a successful program and have the tools in place to measure success rates.
- No conflict of interests involved; employees can share their information more freely and openly knowing it remains private and confidential.
- Minimal investment of resources from internal staff; you would just need one or two point-of-contacts to coordinate with the outside agency.
- An outside agency can offer an online booking platform to make scheduling specific services like biometric screenings and flu clinics easy for the employees. Most companies won’t have this capability internally.
- Unnecessary for simple programs that don’t require expertise.
- Costs incurred from hiring a third-party vendor.
- There will be a research period to find the right agency for your needs.
How Much do Corporate Wellness Programs Cost?
It’s often difficult to assess how much corporate wellness programs cost in general because there are such a variety of activities that can be involved in any given program. The good news is there is a price point for several common services offered by corporate wellness service providers.
Biometric Screening Assessments
Biometric screenings are a comprehensive assessment using multiple tests to assess different health indicators. A biometric screening may include some or all of these tests:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Glucose
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Waist Circumference
- A1C test
- Heart health testing
- Nurse Consultations
Price: From $10 – $175 per person, depending on the package chosen and the specific tests involved.
Corporate Flu Clinics
A good corporate flu clinic program offers participating employees:
- Vaccinations from a licensed Nurse
- Information regarding the benefits/risks of the vaccination
- Questionnaire, consent form, and immunization record card
- Educational information regarding influenza signs and symptoms and how to stay healthy during the flu season
- Complimentary goodies like snacks, or a bottle of hand sanitizer
Price: From $5 – $15 per person, with the ability to vaccinate 10 to 12 people per hour.
Education/wellness workshops or seminars are intended to promote a healthy lifestyle and equip employees with information, tips, strategies and the skills needed to change behaviours and make healthy life choices. These workshops often focus on important subject matters like nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress management.
Price: From $250 – $500 per hour; pricing may vary depending on the size of the company and the number of people attending the workshop.
Lots of research should be done prior to implementing your corporate wellness program to ensure high success and a strong participation rate. An ideal corporate wellness program incorporates activities planned by your internal team, along with special services offered by an outside agency. If you’re an employer and you’re contemplating whether to incorporate corporate wellness programs into your organization, we hope this guide has helped you make an informed decision. At the end of the day, what matters most is achieving your organizational goals, and keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive.