The concept of corporate wellness has been around for decades. It's a way for both self-insured and fully-insured companies to help their employees with early prevention of disease and other health issues, while lowering total overall cost.
The components of most corporate wellness programs are well established and often include biometric screenings and annual physicals. But they are now evolving to include new methods that help promote activity and prevent future conditions.
Overall, corporate wellness programs are becoming more holistic, treating an employee's mind and body. Scenarios like this one are becoming more commonplace: Imagine arriving at work early and joining your colleagues in the "quiet room" to take part in morning meditation guided by an expert.
You spend 30 minutes focusing on only your breathing-not the meetings you need to attend or the emails you need to return. At the close of your session, you feel calm and focused. You're ready to start your day.
In addition to meditation, new age wellness programs might also feature weight-loss challenges, boot camp or yoga classes in addition to nutrition counseling. They might also reward employees for taking that mid-morning walk and encourage more physical activity through friendly competition.
Many companies will even organize teams for marathons, charity races and themed obstacle course races. They also may encourage employees to order healthy meals and snacks each week to ensure they're making wellness a priority.
As exciting and cool as some of these new programs sound, it's important not to discount the foundation of corporate wellness plans. Health screenings, annual physicals and smoking cessation programs help employees understand their current health. Just as you would conduct research before buying a car or making a big financial decision, these medical tests are an important way to help employees make informed decisions about their current and future health.
After initial screenings, employees will have the opportunity to treat issues like high cholesterol through nutrition counseling, or learn strategies to cope with stress and lower blood pressure without medication.
By incorporating the "foundations" of wellness with the "new age of corporate wellness," employers ensure a more personalized program-one that enables employees to do it their way-and provide for a more enjoyable workplace and a healthier workforce.
As an added benefit, this new focus on wellness not only keeps your workforce healthier; it also will help you recruit talent.
Younger workers-especially those in the millennial generation-are becoming more difficult to retain at top tier companies. They tend to seek wellness-related benefits when they consider which jobs to apply for and which ones to pass on.
They are increasingly attracted to companies that offer a wide range of wellness benefits that take into account their physical, emotional, financial and social health. The new age of corporate wellness not only improves the lives of employees-it also helps employers measure the ROI of wellness.
Employers who adopt strategies that have a meaningful effect on employees can win the battle to attract top tier talent. They will also benefit from employees who miss fewer days due to illness, are less stressed out on average and are more productive.
Most CEOs like to say that their organization's greatest asset is its people. Holistic wellness programs help them ensure that those valuable assets stay healthy and productive.
About the Author
HARRISON NEWMAN, Executive Benefits Consultant, Corporate Synergies, specializes in reducing employer benefit costs through in-depth research, strategic plan design, claims data analysis, and diligent carrier negotiations.