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All businesses today are aware that a healthy workforce translates to a happier and more productive employee.  Nearly a quarter of participants in SHRM’s latest benefits survey plan to increase their Health & Wellness benefits, whose percentage was higher than other categories such as professional and career development, flexible work schedules, retirement and family-friendly policies. One unusual offering, workstations that allow people to stand, soared to 44% from just 13% in 2013 when the data was first tracked.

Helping your employees strive towards physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual well-being can lead to increased productivity and employee longevity. But how can you offer wellness programs that your employees will actually use and find beneficial? There’s no one size fits all solution, and the best way to get started is to invite employee input. Need some inspiration? Here are 5 employee wellness programs that might be the right fit for your company this coming year:

1. Online Wellness/Health Screening

Did you know many health nurses today pay their employees to take an online health risk assessment? Covered members receive a lump sum benefit payment once a year if they complete certain health-related activities (i.e. routine screenings, programs like smoking cessation and weight reduction, and more). Payment options range from $50 to $150. Empire Blue Cross, for example, pays up to $300 for this including a smoking cessation online questionnaire and flu vaccination.

2. Gym Reimbursements

You might not be able to build a gym at the office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of your neighborhood businesses. Did you know most healthcare compare today to offer up to $400 annual gym reimbursement? Most include a $200 spousal gym reimbursement as well.

3. Start a Walking Group

This solution is easy, free, and can be employee-driven. Failing to take breaks leads to burnout and eventually employee resentment. Encourage employees to take frequent breaks, but not just to the break room for more artificial lighting and a caffeine boost. Rally eager employees to lead morning, lunch, and/or after-work walking groups. The fresh air is energizing, boosts creativity, and helps feed social wellness needs, too.

4. Create a Healthy Challenge That Isn’t Based on Numbers

Although some businesses have success with Biggest Loser-style in-office challenges, it can also trigger disordered eating. Instead of focusing on numbers, focus on more subjective goals—like how many consecutive days fresh, local fresh vegetables can be part of a lunch. Kicking off these challenges with a brief intro to the importance of a healthy diet for life can help employees re-think their choices.

5. Seek Help from Outside Resources

There are several organizations that employers can turn to for information, research, and guidance on wellness programs. Below are just a few for you to explore for helpful ideas on how to develop a culture of health in your organization.

HERO is a national non-profit dedicated to identifying and sharing best practices in the field of workplace health and well-being (HWB). Their mission is to improve the health and well-being of workers, their spouses, dependents, and retirees. Check out the wealth of information on their site, including research studies and a blog.

The Health Project is a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation formed to bring about critical attitudinal and behavioral changes in addressing the health and well-being of Americans. The Health Project focuses on improving personal healthcare practices and supporting population health by reaching adults where they spend most of their waking hours: at work. Many organizations have adopted health promotion (wellness) programs that encourage good health habits and an improved understanding of how individual workers and their families can more effectively use health services.

Harvard Health Newsletters are free newsletters targeted to individuals with the purpose of providing educational information to help them invest in their own health or the health of their families.

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Contact us to learn more about how health and wellness benefits can help you attract and retain your top talent.


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