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What is Employee Wellness?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Employee wellness refers to any workplace sponsored programs that hope to help employees live more healthily. Included in employee wellness could be very simple things, like having lunch break walks or adding a few lines in a company newsletter to remind people the company is offering flu shots. Alternately, some companies go much farther than this, employing consultants to help them do the most to increase employee health or having a range of easy to use and inexpensive services that might contribute to good health.

Although employee wellness is often thought of as being separate from offering health care benefits, any company interested in caring for the health of its employees must begin by offering said employees affordable health insurance with good preventative care, a full complement of physical care services and mental health services. People will get sick, with minor or major illnesses, and if part of the concern is to make certain employee sick time is reduced, the surest path is by making sure people have access to doctors or other allied health professionals when they need them. Employee wellness programs that do not begin with this have little likelihood of succeeding. Companies also need to look at the chances of the lowest paid workers being able to afford to enroll in health care and to meet copayment or coinsurance charges. If possible, preventative care services like yearly exams, immunizations, and testing should be free.

Once a good health plan is in place for employees, companies may able to implement some of the suggestions offered by the health plan. Many have monthly newsletters, great Internet sites full of wellness information, and reminders for employees about when they should get yearly check-ups or tests. These can all be incorporated into a company wellness plan, or employers can at least encourage their employees to use the available resources.

Some companies decide to pursue this much more. They may have other benefits to offer employees like free or reduced price gym memberships, cafeterias that serve healthy food, or instructors that teach tai chi before work. A sense of fellowship between employees could be established if on weekends or after work, workers could participate together in healthy cooking classes. Amount of resistance to employee wellness programs is usually met if the suggestions made are impossible to follow (high prices for health screenings for instance). Greater success for wellness programs tends to exist when employers make it possible for their workers to participate without much extra effort.

A few companies will go a little farther in their efforts to keep employees healthy. They might offer them bonuses for participation in wellness events, or for ending habits like smoking. Other ways to encouraging participation in whatever wellness programs are offered can include giving prizes or awarding people by recognizing worker efforts in company newsletters.

Employers clearly understand that they benefit when their workers are healthy, and unfortunately, many Americans are not. Encouraging healthful habits and behavior is a good idea, when it comes with a light touch. Forcing employees to participate in wellness programs isn’t likely to create much emotional wellness in a company. Rather, employers have to be creative and look at ways they can encourage healthy living while making it fun and easy. They also have to practice what they preach and participate in these programs too, with great enthusiasm.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By comfyshoes — On Dec 13, 2010

GreenWeaver-I agree with you. Some companies do an employee wellness survey to see what are the best ways that a company can help its employees.

For example, another positive development with respect to employee wellness might include an onsite day care.

Many large companies offer this option to attract talented employees that may have small children. By having the onsite daycare, the employee does not have to worry about getting to the daycare before they close, because the daycare will be in the same building.

Also, the employee could spend time with his or her child at lunch time further strengthening the bond between parent and child.

This also gives the employee a huge psychological boost that will show up in an increased level of productivity because the employee does not have to worry about the child care.

By GreenWeaver — On Dec 12, 2010

Sunshine31-Sometimes employee health and wellness also takes the form of counseling and psychological services.

Many companies also provide these services free or at a huge discount so that the employee could get the counseling they need.

Usually there is a confidential hotline number that the employee calls in order to be connected with someone to talk to. It is usually a therapist and the problems do not have to be work related.

This gives the employee an outlet to discuss his or her feelings in order to help the employee cope with problems that are seemingly overwhelming.

I think that counseling is a great idea because often employees and managers a like are exposed to so much stress that it is important that they have an outlet so that their personal lives and job performance will not suffer.

This is a great idea because an employee that is troubled will not perform their job as well as someone who has a clear mind.

By sunshine31 — On Dec 11, 2010

Many companies offer employee wellness benefits because it reduces the number of sick days that an employee uses, the enhanced health benefits from such programs also lowers the employee health premiums and allows for the employee to become more productive.

Some worksite employee wellness program ideas include an onsite fitness gym. It could also include a corporate employee wellness incentives such as bonuses for pounds lost or discounts to programs like Weight Watchers.

The employee health and wellness program might even include onsite Weight Watchers meeting in which the employee can engage in this weight loss management program that promotes long term weight loss.

These employee wellness program ideas also make the employee happier and as a result the employee is more focused on their job.

Some companies have even offered gym memberships as part of their compensation plan and many more companies are looking to hire non smokers only. High employee satisfaction also leads to low employee turnover.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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