Wellness Programs Offer Opportunity to Engage Workers

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By Genevieve Douglas
June 6 — A well-designed wellness program is one of the best opportunities for employers to engage employees "in all spheres of their life," human resources professionals said June 6.

Wellness programs should encourage high-performing workers to remain at the organization to enable the company to be competitive in a global market, Lauren Benz, clinical account manager for MVP Health Care, told attendees at the WorldatWork Total Rewards conference in San Diego.

"Good health is good business at the end of the day" because employees are a company's greatest resource for success, Benz said. Benz warned that low employee well-being is often associated with higher employee turnover rates, low levels of employee engagement, higher health-care costs and increased absenteeism.

According to Dan Harding, director of total rewards and employee relations at MVP Health Care, an effective wellness program should focus on multiple aspects of employees' lives, including:

  • Nutrition, exercise and medical care, because self-care and disease prevention programs will address how employees can decrease sedentary lifestyles, fix unbalanced diets and encourage tobacco cessation.
  • Friends, family and co-worker relationships, because healthy relationships and social interactions offer employees a better work-life balance.
  • Mind and spirit, because self-esteem, stress and anxiety can affect sleep patterns, peace of mind and employee productivity.
  •  Money management, because programs on budgeting, income and expenses, handling stress related to financial security and how to eliminate debt will decrease employees' overall stress and anxiety in the workplace.

Harding added that over the next year or so, MVP Health Care is planning to also address tuition reimbursement programs and benefits for elder care for the employees taking care of children and parents.

Buying Into the Business Case for Wellness 

For many companies, return on investment from wellness programs is often a part of the conversation company leadership wants to have, Harding said. Research shows that companies that are focused on well-being and focused on their people are usually high performing in terms of ROI, he said.

Branding is another important piece of the business case for a well-designed wellness program, Harding said. Employers should create a wellness brand that aligns with the company's overall identity, mission, vision and values. This creates a more recognizable wellness brand that will resonate with employees, he added.

Harding also advised that HR communicate these values and programs to managers to encourage employee engagement, as they interact with workers on a daily basis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris in Washington at tharris@bna.com

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