What Is Workplace Wellness? 7 Things to Know About Corporate Wellness Programs

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably wondered, “what exactly is workplace wellness?” Or you’re interested in learning more about corporate wellness programs. We’ve got you covered!

As defined in the book Corporate Wellness Programs: Linking Employee and Organizational Health, corporate wellness programs encompass “… the efforts organizations can adopt to enhance the health and well-being of their employees.” These programs, the book explains, bring immense benefit to “…both employers and employees by boosting retention rates and productivity.”

Sound like a win-win?

Yes, it certainly is, but employee retention rates and productivity are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits that both the employer and the individuals will experience through achieving workplace wellness.

Corporate wellness programs lead to a 25% reduction in company costs associated with sick leave, health plans, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance.

Corporate wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular. More and more organizations are realizing the immense benefits of workplace wellness, and are implementing programs accordingly. And while it’s apparent that this wellness initiative is here to stay, how any given company creates their wellness programs is not a one size fits all.

There are many ways to go about creating a corporate wellness program. Yet, according to the Corporate Wellness Programs book, there are four main guiding principles that make any given wellness program a success.

Read on to learn more!

This article will cover:

  • An overview of workplace wellness
  • A review of corporate wellness program benefits
  • The guiding principles that make wellness programs successful
  • What employers need to know
  • Tips for employee advocacy



Workplace Wellness: An Overview

In the United States, studies have shown that 70% of the country’s medical costs are from lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

It is no secret that individuals who are not physically active, smoke or drink alcohol excessively, or who have an unhealthy diet are at a higher health risk and face higher medical costs. Another large contributor to health issues is stress and lack of sleep.

A key goal of corporate wellness is to establish a work-life balance so employees thrive both in and outside of the workplace.

A corporate wellness program should address all of these health issues. A wellness program should also take into account the organization’s specific needs, based on the employees themselves, company culture, and workplace-related issues.

Read on to learn more about what a corporate wellness program is, what makes it successful, and how to advocate for workplace wellness in your organization.

Did you know that YA Classes offers a corporate wellness membership? Not only do employees receive unlimited access to hundreds of on-demand fitness, yoga, and wellness classes – a company only pays per active user, making it a great deal for organizations of any size! Learn more here.
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Corporate Wellness Programs: What You Need to Know

Health and wellness is at the forefront of public awareness, as it continues to be an issue and a threat both in the workplace and in society at large.

A corporate wellness program should empower and promote a holistic approach to employee wellbeing. It is about finding a solution to the organization’s wellness needs while encouraging a company culture of health awareness.

The goal of a corporate wellness program is to boost productivity, increase employee retention and loyalty, and improve both employee engagement and healthy habits.

Why is workplace wellness in the spotlight? Because it employs the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Any employer should recognize the immense benefits of establishing workplace wellness.

Corporations understand the importance – and massive financial gain – of investing in corporate wellness programs because they recognize that prevention reduces the ever-rising healthcare costs and reduces the bottom line.

Employees spend a lot of time – often the majority of their time – in the workplace. Thus another goal of corporate wellness is to establish a work-life balance so employees thrive both in and outside of the workplace.

Now that we’ve established the crucial importance of workplace wellness, let’s explore what makes a wellness program successful.

These Are the 4 Guiding Principles That Make Wellness Programs Successful:

Based on the guiding principles outlined in Corporate Wellness Programs: Linking Employee and Organizational Health, read on for the four main principles.


1. Define “Health” as It Impacts Your Employee Wellness Specifically

How does “health” pertain to your employees specifically in terms of their overall wellbeing? In order for an individual to be fully engaged and also feel satisfied and supported by their employer, their wellness should encompass both physical and mental health.

When companies are looking into adding a corporate wellness program, the focus should be on how this program will benefit both the physical aspect of wellness (exercise) as well as the mental health aspect (which encompasses work-related stress, overall job satisfaction, employee fulfillment, etc).

2. Create a Supportive, Inclusive Workplace Wellness Environment

This guiding principle focuses on getting the employees to engage in wellness practices. It is the integration of these wellness practices into the company’s objectives for productivity and profitability.

In other words, this principle is about employers investing in their employees’ wellness, as a mutually beneficial way of also investing in their bottom line. Research shows that corporate wellness programs “lead to a 25% reduction in company costs associated with sick leave, health plans, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance.”

Thus, corporate wellness programs benefit the organization through several crucial factors, including: a reduction in sick leave, drastically reduced costs for healthcare and/or worker’s comp, and an increase in overall productivity.
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3. Educate Employees on Prevention-Focused Wellness

Health education – and specifically preventative health education – should be a center point in employee wellness and advocacy.

Prevention includes everything from simple practices to reduce stress, addressing individual’s health concerns like high blood pressure etc, and also mental health-related issues like chronic stress.

Therefore, prevention-focused wellness is all-encompassing and addresses key aspects of physical and mental wellbeing on an individual and company-wide level.

4. Incentivize Overall Employee Health and Wellness

Employers may be wondering how best to incentivize their employees to take advantage of corporate wellness programs. A common method of incentivisation is monetary.

Many companies offer wellness benefits of up to a set amount of money per quarter, or year. Other companies offer wellness incentives in the form of higher employee discounts, subsidized gym or yoga memberships, among other things.

Ever Tried Yoga At Work? Boost Productivity With These 7 Chair Yoga Poses

Regardless of how employers choose to incentivize employees, it’s an important step in achieving workplace wellness success.
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Employee Advocacy: Here Are 3 Tips to Get Your Workplace Wellness Started

If you work for an organization that doesn’t yet have a corporate wellness program in place, these tips will empower you to advocate for it. You and your colleagues deserve optimal wellness, both in and beyond the workplace.

1. Talk to Management and Form a Wellness Committee

Management is not only the decision maker, but they are also responsible for the company’s bottom line. Management, particularly upper management, should also place high priority on their employees’ wellbeing.

Corporate wellness programs have been proven to:

  • Increase productivity
  • Boost company morale
  • Improve focus, concentration and decision making skills
  • Reduce the amount of sick leave, employee compensation, and turnover
  • Increase employee retention and loyalty

The above benefits are compelling! Share them with your management, and then advocate to form a wellness committee.

A committee is a small, diverse group of employees that represents the company as a whole. Together, this committee can brainstorm, create initiatives, and support the process of creating a corporate wellness program.

2. Make a Plan

Begin by determining what the specific wellness needs of your organization are, based on its employee’s current wellness habits, health issues, and performance trends.

For example, if productivity is a main concern of the company, then a corporate wellness program should include practices that address this issue. If the main concern of employees is work-related stress, then the wellness program committee should take that into consideration as well.

Once the wellness needs have been determined, you can now create a plan of how exactly to develop the corporate wellness program. This plan is what the wellness committee will take to upper management for implementation.

Your workplace wellness plan should include:

  • Clear messaging about what the wellness program will include
  • Specific needs and intended results
  • Promotion within the company to inform the employees
  • Outline a budget

Based on the wellness needs defined above, you will then create a menu of activities that cater to these needs specifically. This can include group fitness like yoga or exercises classes, guided meditation or other stress relieving activities, educational offerings, health screenings, access to therapy, and more.

Finally, when it comes to workplace wellness, it’s important to implement objectives to show results. According to this article, S.M.A.R.T. objectives stand for “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific.” These objectives allow the organization to see the vast benefits of corporate wellness programs for themselves.

The article concludes by confirming how companies that “… invest time and energy into establishing a strong wellness program reap the benefits of a healthier workforce.” Any employer should recognize the immense benefits of establishing workplace wellness.

3. Bonus: Create an Incentive Program

Creating an incentive program can greatly boost the interest in and ultimate success of a corporate wellness program. Finding how best to incentivize employees largely depends on the company culture, but there are a few general examples of successful incentive programs.

Some companies whose wellness focus is on physical health may set up group fitness programs either in-office or by offering subsidized gym or yoga memberships.

Did you know that YA Classes offers a corporate wellness membership? Not only do employees receive unlimited access to hundreds of on-demand fitness, yoga, and wellness classes – a company only pays per active user, making it a great deal for organizations of any size! Learn more here.

Consider other angles of incentivisation also, such as offering healthy food in the company cafeteria or vending machines, or offering flexible scheduling or options for working remotely as another form of incentive or reward.

It may be a good idea to incentivize small steps towards wellness goals, in addition to more long-term rewards. If you’re unsure of where to begin, ask management to get involved and consider polling the staff to gauge their specific needs and interests.

Corporate Wellness: The Final Takeaway

While corporate wellness programs are not a one size fits all, what all workplace wellness initiatives have in common is the understanding that they bring immense benefits to both the organization as a whole, as well as each individual employee.

Armed with the knowledge and information in this article, employers and employees alike have the resources to begin a wellness initiative, or evaluate the current corporate wellness program if there is one in place.

Are you an employee interested in advocating for workplace wellness? Are you an employer ready to implement a wellness program? Please share your thoughts, questions, or ideas in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

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