At many businesses across America, there’s an understanding that HR offices have a vested interest in fighting for better corporate health and wellness. If you can keep your employees healthy, they’re more likely to stay engaged at work. If people are productive, they can contribute directly to a strong bottom line. It’s therefore worth the investment, usually, to spend a little on wellness.
The problem, of course, is that many elements of employee wellness are beyond the employer’s control. Staying healthy is largely a matter of practicing good personal habits – eating well, exercising, staying in shape and going to the doctor whenever a problem arises. There’s only so much employers can do to enforce these habits, short of hovering over employees 24/7 and demanding that they eat their vegetables.
HR leaders have to do something, though. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, there’s a strong business case to be made for workplace wellness. Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, noted that nearly 20 percent of Americans have a diagnosable mental health condition each year, and many others are at risk. This problem alone is believed to directly cost employers an estimated $80 to $100 billion each year, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s no telling how much wellness could be worth, all told.
“Employees spend more than one third of their day at work,” Gionfriddo noted. “For some, it can be as much as two-thirds…Given all of the time we spend at work, employers and employees coming together to create a healthy work environment benefits everyone.”
So what can employers do? SHRM research suggests a few steps that can make a world of difference:
Talk more about health
Simply put, many employees don’t think much about their health and wellness needs because it isn’t something that’s talked about in their office. It might be time to remove the stigma. Open up the dialogue about health and remind the staff how important it is.
Promote “total wellness”
Wellness includes a lot of elements – there’s diet, exercise, various illnesses and other non-physical considerations like mental and financial health. All of the above are important, and the best employers support their people across the whole spectrum.
Provide adequate insurance
Does the insurance you offer your employees cover them for every health problem that might arise? If there’s a blind spot, you’ll want to get it covered. Your employees should have the peace of mind that your coverage can handle anything.
Encourage health screenings
It’s not always easy to get employees to attend screenings for illnesses they might have. If you emphasize that you have people’s best interests at heart, and if you make the screenings safe and confidential, you can change the culture around screenings.
Offer help through an EAP
Remember – no matter what health difficulties might be headed your workers’ way, having an employee assistance program in place can help address any and all of them. EAPs offer educational resources and one-on-one coaching in situations where employees need them. They’re an invaluable part of any company’s wellness strategy.
Learn more about the Ceridian LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program when you watch this video: It’s About Being Healthy, Engaged and Productive.