Lifestyle-related, modifiable health risks, such as physical activity, stress and blood pressure account for over a quarter of company costs through lost productivity as well as medical and pharmaceutical claims―and these costs continue to rise. The good news is that successful employee wellness programs can significantly reduce these costs for organizations. A 2003 study focusing on the economic Return on Investment (ROI) of workplace health promotion concluded that workplace programs achieve a 25 to 30 per cent reduction in medical and absenteeism costs over an average of about 3.6 years (Chapman 2003).
Alberta Blue Cross® invests in and prioritizes a culture of wellness as part of our overall Blue For Life vision—to achieve an increased and enduring presence in the lives of our customers—and all Albertans. This was exemplified with the launch of Balance®, our online wellness program in 2015. Today, we continue to invest in the wellness of our team members as well as support other organizations to implement their own employee wellness programs. We have seen firsthand how employee wellness programing and a culture of wellness can boost morale, increase productivity, lower absenteeism and turnover and, ultimately, reduce costs.
Despite the many benefits of employee wellness initiatives, many organizations still do not offer wellness programing. As part of our ongoing commitment to helping our customers foster healthy workplace cultures and supporting employee health, Alberta Blue Cross recently commissioned the Integrated Health Institute to explore factors that contribute to or challenge the implementation of employee wellness programs. From the findings of the study we have prepared a white paper to provide a steppingstone for organizations ready to start their wellness journey. Below we share a brief sample of four key findings from the whitepaper as well as actions to address them.
Wellness is not a concept that is understood in a corporate context.
While focus group participants were familiar with employer health benefits, most were unsure if their organization had a corporate wellness program or even what a wellness program was.
Employees at all levels need to be educated on the definition and purpose of wellness and how it relates to corporate goals before engaging in wellness activities.
A successful wellness strategy depends on input and engagement from all levels within the organization.
Individuals are far more likely to engage in programing and activities when they feel invested in and a part of it.
Engage employees from across the department early in the planning stages. Make sure there are channels for employees at all levels to safely provide feedback and comments throughout the process.
There is no one-size-fits-all program
Wellness strategies must be tailored to meet the needs, concerns and lifestyles of employees. If programing doesn’t meet their needs, or is difficult to access, employees won’t engage.
Provide a variety of activities and opportunities so that programming is accessible to as many employees as possible no matter work style or demographic. Rewards for engagement should also be varied should include both intrinsic and interpersonal rewards.
Wellness strategies should be comprehensive and holistic while prioritizing mental health.
Wellness initiatives focused on a single aspect of wellness are less likely to make an impact.
Employees are unlikely to partake in other wellness strategies if they are suffering from mental health challenges. The most successful wellness programs should address physical, social, financial and mental well-being.
Think of these key learnings as best practice building blocks. They are the foundation of any successful wellness strategy. However, as a champion of corporate wellness planning, we know it is much more complicated. We also understand that not all companies have the resources or experience needed at their fingertips. As your partner in wellness, we are happy to provide access and encourage you to explore the full paper here .
If interested in discussing these findings or how Alberta Blue Cross can support your organizational wellness, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.