Happier, healthier employees. Reduced absenteeism. Higher ROI. Lower turnover. These are just a few of the benefits that overall workplace wellness and employee wellness programs deliver.

Here’s how you can see these benefits in your organization.

Zestful report: Workplace wellness: employee wellness programs in 2020

Employee wellness programs benefit employees and employers

Perks like employee wellness programs are no longer nice-to-haves for employers. 

But you already knew that, didn’t you? 

Wellness programs are increasingly integral parts of what initially attract employees to businesses, encourage them to stay, improve their performance, and enable them to grow in their personal and professional lives. 

There’s ample data supporting the various, unique ways companies have implemented these plans—and the results are impressive. Across industries, different types of employee wellness programs yield positive results for not only employees, but employers as well.

Above all, this post highlights that employees who take advantage of workplace wellness programs:

  • Are healthier overall
  • Are more physically active
  • Report greater job satisfaction
  • Have higher rates of presenteeism
  • Are more engaged in their roles
  • Are less likely to look for another job
  • Deliver significant ROI for employers
  • Save employers on health care and workers’ compensation costs

The best part is, employers can achieve these benefits through a variety of workplace wellness programs, but one thing is clear: employees want options. 

They want the flexibility to choose how they improve in their professional and personal lives—and getting there is simpler than employers may think.

Zestful’s take on workplace wellness programs: Why we care

Zestful knows the power that workplace wellness perks deliver, and empowers employers with the flexibility to offer employees what they want.

We want to shed light on just how beneficial workplace wellness programs are to both employees and employers. Because of this, we’ve compiled fast facts for employers who may be on the fence about implementing these programs—or are revamping their existing perks offerings.

Because each employee has unique needs, Zestful is designed to enable employees to spend their allowances on the things they decide are most important to them, including:

  • Fitness and health memberships
  • Career advancement and educational opportunities
  • Healthy meal plans
  • Transit and transportation passes
  • Giving to charities of their choice

What we’ve found is that employees who have the freedom to pick their perks take advantage of opportunities to improve their physical and mental health, grow and learn new skills, and become more engaged in their workplaces as a result.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Before we get into workplace wellness programs—what is workplace wellness?

Every business defines workplace wellness a bit differently. But the overlapping factors are simple: workplace wellness comes from any company-wide initiatives that support employees’ mental and physical wellness outside of health insurance plans.

Workplace wellness programs often include or offer allowances for: 

  • Gym memberships
  • Career or education advancement classes
  • Transit passes (this helps reduce the stress of commuting)
  • Mental health services
  • Yoga, pilates, barre, martial arts, or other related classes
  • Bodywork services (like massage, chiropractic work, or acupuncture)
  • Smoking cessation and support programs

These programs aren’t just nice-to-haves for employers; employees increasingly want (and expect) employers to offer workplace wellness programs—and they’re a big decision influencer for 73% of candidates who are offered a position. This figure rises to 87% when focusing only on employees between ages 18 and 34.

But it’s not just potential employees who highly value employee wellness programs. 70% of employees are at least somewhat likely to leave their current employer for a company that is known for investing in just one type of wellness perk: career development and learning.

That’s unsurprising when considering that 61% of workers look for career development opportunities while weighing employment options. 36% of millennials say that they would consider leaving a job that didn’t offer educational opportunities.

This should be welcomed news for employers: employees are on the hunt for jobs that allow them to grow professionally and, in turn, grow their business.

The argument: Why your company needs an employee wellness program

Well-paying roles are no longer enough to attract and retain talented employees. Employees want benefits that enable them to flourish professionally and personally.

Engaged, happy employees

These benefits keep employees happy and engaged. 72% of employees say that they would be much more satisfied with their jobs if they had more benefits. And 69% of employees who do remain in their roles for years do so in large part because they value the rewards and recognition they receive from their employers.

Higher employee engagement means employees perform at higher levels. This means that employers who excel in employee engagement achieve four times their competitors’ earnings-per-share

But the benefits don’t stop at earnings. Companies in the top quartile report higher quality customer engagement, elevated productivity, increased retention, fewer workplace accidents, and higher profitability.

So, if employers want their employees to stick around and scale their organization, including the perks they want is an excellent way to retain irreplaceable talent.

Cost savings

Every new workplace program will, of course, be an additional expense to employers. However, employers must consider the return on their investment, both financially and on an employee health basis.

One study found that for every dollar a business invested in a single employee through its workplace wellness program, it yielded $6 in return.

The company also saw that employees taking part in a workplace wellness program spent $1500 less on annual health care costs than those of similar physical condition who were not a part of the program. They can also reduce the average sick leave, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance costs by roughly 25%.

Health care spending is soaring, and employers are looking for ways to save where they can. While not intended to replace health insurance benefits, workplace wellness programs lead to a reduction in medical costs by about $3.27 for each dollar spent.

Improved absenteeism

But it’s not just health care costs. 79% of employers implement workplace wellness programs to improve absenteeism—and it’s paying off. These programs save employers about $2.73 for every dollar spent on efforts to reduce employee absenteeism.

How employees participate in workplace wellness programs

Whether in working hours, location, or perks, employees want flexibility. Workplace wellness programs that give employees the wiggle room they demand allow them to take full advantage of perks—and the data shows that employees are making healthy decisions.

Health & fitness is employees’ top priority

Employers want their employees to be healthy and happy, and employees are taking their health into their own hands.

Zestful data reports a resounding trend: employees overwhelmingly choose to spend their perks on improving their physical health. Top Health & Fitness merchants used monthly by Zestful users include:

  • ClassPass
  • REI
  • YMCA
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Massage Envy
  • Orange Theory Fitness
  • Soul Cycle
  • Peloton
  • Barry’s Bootcamp
  • GNC
  • Equinox
  • Headspace
  • Lululemon

And the list goes on. Clearly, employees are adamant about a healthier lifestyle—and employers who recognize these efforts benefit, too. 

Employers who recognize employees’ healthy strides and results saw an overall improvement in their team’s health and medical plan costs than companies who didn’t recognize these efforts.

Another win for both employees and their employers.

The takeaway: How to implement employee wellness programs

There’s no one-size-fits-all employee wellness program—nor should there be; each employee has different goals and concerns. Employers’ wellness programs should honor their employees’ power and enable them to make decisions that align with their unique goals.

How can they do this?

  • Assess the data. Explore other employers’ successes (and challenges), like those mentioned throughout this post.
  • Talk to your employees. Find out what they care about and create a plan that enables them to succeed. Make sure it has the flexibility that employees across industries demand.

Lead by example. Take part in whatever plan you decide is right for your team. Show them that you’re engaged, and are serious about creating a healthier, happier workplace that facilitates growth and development.

Curious how Zestful can help? Reach out.

Author

Brad Jamison (he/him) is a copywriter, content creator, and editor. He authors a variety of employee and HR-focused content pieces, and is especially interested in Millennials’ contributions to the ever-evolving workplace. He lives in Denver, CO.

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