Most employers have pretty selfish reasons to put a wellness program in place. Usually the program and its associated return on investment plan are focused on reducing absenteeism, reducing drug use and disease management program impacts, as well as increasing employee productivity and employee retention. This is all great and realistic if the program is designed properly and you add one key element: time.
Any return on investment for a wellness program will take significant time, probably up to 3 to 5 years according to leading program experts. So why invest in a wellness program short-term?
Well if you’re a company that expects to be in it for the long run and wants to remain competitive, it’s clear that a wellness program will have major positive impacts over time. But the biggest reason to invest in an employee focused wellness program (read that again: an employee focused wellness program) is due to the fact that there are huge short-term gains to be held in engaging your employees with your company.
Recently, during our wellness program launch we made the whole program available to employee’s families. The reasoning is that for our employees to reach their wellness goals they must have a supportive environment and therefore including their spouses and their children as part of the program makes total sense. How can an employee attempt to quit smoking if their spouse smokes like a chimney? Not only does this help individuals to reach their goals but it also extends the support a company receives for launching the program in the first place by extending its reach into the family unit. Also of key importance is if employees have a hand in creating the wellness program and becoming the key focus, their engagement will follow. If they feel they own the program and have input then they will engage and then all the great previously discussed ROI can start happening at a much faster pace. So launch a wellness program but then let your employees own and help steer the goals and the key directions of the program so that they and their families are actively engaged. Engaged employees create much richer value for a company.
Recently at our company, we have further extended our wellness program into the larger community by starting to plan a “Community Wellness Day” that looks to raise awareness and provide opportunities to all community members to get involved in wellness. The event will have race/run/walk events, a healthy barbecue lunch, wellness and business participants and children’s activities. Not only does this provide great benefit for community wellness but also by doing this we are hopefully increasing overall community engagement in the support of our employees and our company, which is critical in today’s global economy. It’s time to re-think how companies engage with their community and extend benefits to a much larger audience. Successful engagement must start being looked at a much broader level if companies want to increase short and long term return on investments. I look forward on keeping you posted on future developments. Stay tuned more to come.