By Karen Axelton
Are you struggling with the high cost of health insurance in your business? It seems like every year, premiums go up without fail. Fortunately, there is one way to decrease your costs that could also increase your team’s productivity, satisfaction and happiness: offering wellness programs and incentives.
AccountingWeb recently rounded up the results of several surveys of health and wellness programs in the workplace. WORKING WELL: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies found that 45 percent of companies who measured the results of their wellness programs found that such programs reduced overall healthcare costs. A survey by Highmark Inc. that analyzed wellness programs over a four-year period found companies that had wellness programs saved an average of $332 per participant.
A Department of Health and Human Services Report done in 2010 found that 75 percent of the $2.5 trillion spent on health care each year in this country goes to treat preventable conditions. So it only makes sense that preventing health problems before they arise through wellness programs would decrease health care costs.
Beyond the costs savings, offering wellness or fitness programs to your employees can have benefits including better employee morale, greater productivity, fewer sick days, less turnover among employees and greater success in attracting qualified employees.
What do employees say? According to AccountingWeb, employees whose companies offer wellness programs say they not only have more energy and feel healthier, but also feel more valued by their employers and more bonded with their co-workers.
How can you incentivize employees to stay healthy and well? AccountingWeb reports that some of the most popular incentives include:
- Access to such as cholesterol screening, smoking cessation programs and nutrition counseling.
- Access to fitness programs such as gyms, exercise classes or yoga classes
- Discounts on health club memberships
- Healthy snacks at the office such as providing fresh fruit instead of donuts at meetings, or catering healthy dinners instead of pizza when employees work late
- Holding wellness-related events such as brown-bag lunches where experts come in to talk to the team about health and fitness
- Offering health-related perks or rewards such as gift certificates for spa treatments or massages
Of course, some of these incentives are easier than others for small companies to offer. Start by checking with your health insurance provider to see what types of fitness and wellness incentives or educational programs they offer. Even if you can’t get your employees free membership in a health club, you may be able to work out some type of discount or set up a barter system where your business barters services in return for discounts on memberships. Also consider teaming with other small businesses to attract health educators to speak at your companies or provide on-site massage, yoga or relaxation classes.
Last, but not least, remember that you need to set the example. Hold “walking meetings,” encourage employees to use their lunch hours to work out or take a walk, and support healthy habits. The results will pay off for you, your team—and your business’s bank account.
Image by Flickr user Mimar Sinan (Creative Commons)Google+