A Focus on Health, Safety Can Boost Business Results

June 24, 2014

It should come as no surprise that unhappy, unhealthy workers tend to be less productive than those that are fit and engaged. As a result, many employers across the country place a significant emphasis on health and wellness in their companies, and this focus is an ideal way to keep health and workers’ compensation insurance costs down.

Creating a wellness program and implementing other safety measures into the workspace can have fantastic results for a business. With that in mind, more firms may want to take these steps if they haven’t done so already, so they too can reap the rewards of a motivated, healthy workforce. In order to achieve that goal, here are some tips and trends related to employee fitness.

Improved worker health can benefit the company
Creating an effective wellness program can be one of the best ways to promote employee engagement and turn distracted workers into highly productive ones, according to a recent survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, titled “The Business of Healthy Employees 2014: A Survey of Workplace Health Priorities.”

For the study, Virgin Pulse looked at more than 350 organizations and nearly 4,000 employees, with the goal of learning about the affect of wellness programs on the workforce. The results indicated that these measures can be a fantastic way to not only improve staff members’ health, but also boost productivity and increase profits for the company itself.

“We’re in the midst of an engagement crisis,” noted Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Overall employee disengagement is being reported at 70 percent in the U.S. and even higher globally. That means even on a good day, your employees aren’t tapping their full brainpower or reaching their full productivity potential. Making an investment in employees and demonstrating a commitment to them and their well-being is a straightforward way to help employees make daily changes that lead to sustainable healthy behaviors and improvements in workplace engagement and productivity.”

Moreover, participants reported wellness programs can bring in better potential hires, as well as impart a positive change to the company’s culture. Even so, Virgin Pulse explained that some firms are missing out on ideal opportunities regarding wellness programs, including incentives offered via the Affordable Care Act.

More companies look to boost health
Across the country, many companies are quickly realizing the benefits of using wellness programs and other incentives to improve worker health and reduce both insurance claims and costs.

According to The Economist, a number of corporations have started to alter how they approach health and wellness. For example, many firms now offer financial incentives to employees who hit healthy goals, such as quitting smoking or eating better. On a similar note, many more are starting to penalize workers for not reaching those same benchmarks. For instance, GE Capital’s Connecticut-based office forbids smoking on the property, and the on-site gym comes equipped with personal trainers.

GE Capital isn’t alone, The Economist explained. A number of large corporations, including YMCA, Walgreens and Express Scripts, have started to offer health incentives to employees as a way to control costs and keep workers in better shape. However, this trend may not stop there. More firms could start to turn to harsher methods to encourage healthy behavior, such as a financial penalty for gaining too much weight.

Wellness programs have proven to be effective, affordable means to improve employee health. While companies have a number of options at their disposal, creating a plan that will provide guidance here could drastically reduce insurance costs and improve productivity.