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What are Worksite Wellness Programs?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Worksite wellness programs are health-related support services offered by employers to their employees. Programs of this type go beyond simply making health insurance available to employees. Often, a well-structured employee wellness program will include proactive elements that are aimed at assisting employees with sustaining good health.

There are a number of possibilities employers can consider when structuring a corporate wellness program. One option is the inclusion of a basic health risk assessment. The assessment may be conducted by a contracted medical professional or by a corporate nurse who is also an employee of the company. An annual assessment can help identify habits that could make the employee more susceptible to health issues and provide him or her with support in changing those habits. For example, if the employee has taken up smoking or experienced some sort of life crisis since the last assessment, the healthcare professional can provide data on programs that can help with the issue, such as smoking cessation or stress management techniques.

A worksite wellness program often includes discounts for use of nearby gyms and health clubs. The company contracts with the health club to pay a small portion of the fee for each employee that signs up for membership. In some cases, the health club may have a working arrangement with the underwriter of the group medical coverage offered through the employer. When this is the case, the employee may receive a lump sum rebate from the underwriter after completing one full year of active health club membership.

True worksite wellness programs do not focus just on the physical aspects of good health. Emotional health is also considered an important part of the process. Employers may retain mental health professionals to assist employees who are stressed or otherwise unsettled by life experiences in and outside the workplace. Together, they can decide what combination of emotional and physical therapy would help the employee regain a healthy outlook and make sure the employee has the resources at hand to overcome current obstacles.

Ongoing programs that are open to any employee at any time are also common elements of worksite wellness programs. Exercise rooms that offer work with free weights as well as aerobics classes are not uncommon. Courses and support groups to help employees deal with overeating, tobacco usage, or divorce recovery are often made available by larger employers. However, even small businesses can often draw on resources in the community to create a support network offering these same types of support services.

In the long run, worksite wellness programs have a number of benefits for both the employer and the employee. Employers can anticipate lower absenteeism, more productivity during working hours, less injuries on the job, and a general increase in employee morale. Employees have access to health support services at reduced and sometimes no cost at all, which means less out of pocket expense. All in all, investing in worksite wellness programs just makes sense for everyone involved.

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