There are 168 hours in a week. Your employer has 40 of those hours. Subtract time for sleep, and you only have 72 hours of free time each week as a full-time employee. Now, more and more businesses are offering incentives for spending your free time with a wellness coach and exercising.
What gives? Those same employers claim to be advocates for work-life balance. Now, it seems they are infiltrating your free time with exercise demands and diet tips. Not only do you have a limited amount of free time each week, but do you now have to use free time exercising to gain recognition from your employer?
Taking that perspective, it seems reasonable to be suspicious of an employer-sponsored wellness program. One might think, “Employers are only turning to wellness for profit’s sake anyway, right?” and, “In this economy, employers will do anything to save money and push employees to be more efficient, more productive, and less absent.” Does your employer really care about your health?
Well, do they care?
It is true that workers’ health contributes to productivity, reduced absenteeism, and bottom-line profits. Gallup and Harvard Business Review both agree that a wellness program improves productivity and will provide a return on investment (ROI) for the company.
One figure indicates that an employee with poor health can cost a company nearly $30,000 a year in lost productivity due to sick days alone. That figure does not include the cost of medical claims from employees with hypertension, diabetes (type 2), or high cholesterol, which are all lifestyle influenced medical conditions.
Yet, the best employers consider ROI only a small factor in investing in a wellness program. The most effective wellness programs need strategic alignment with corporate leadership and the corporate identity. Two leaders in workplace wellness adequately sum it up with these statements:
“Successful companies understand the age old truth that employees are their greatest assets. By investing in their employees, they are putting them in the best position to succeed.”
- Andy Gonerka, Marketing Manager, RedBrick Health
“At Keas, we’ve seen the results a fun and social wellness program has on employees – from weight loss and increased energy, to long term changes in diets and more favorable views of employers to name a few. If your employer is offering a wellness program that motivates you to exercise more, eat healthier and interact with your co-workers – this isn’t a trap, they simply care about your well-being.”
- Keith Messick, Chief Marketing Officer, Keas
So yes, the best employers really do care about their employees’ health. Employers realize that when they take responsibility to care for their employees’ health, the employees care more about their job and their workplaces.
But it isn’t all up to the Employer
Ultimately, any change in your lifestyle is up to you. While your employer spends 35% more money on your health this year, what will you do? Randy Hall started exercising more and eating healthier with the support of RedBrick Health coaches and Welch Allyn’s accompanying wellness program. Hall lost 80 pounds, and is nearly back to his younger track star physique.
When your employer offers you wellness incentives over the coming years, I invite you to be receptive. You can use your 72 hours of free time each week to do whatever you wish. If you care about your health as much as your employer, choose healthy ways of spending your free time. You will receive returns on your time investment in your happiness and your livelihood.
Employee Benefit News: Put Me in Coach: Program Helps Engineer Lose Weight.
Gallup Management Journal: The Business Case for Wellbeing.
Harvard Business Review: What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?
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