Written by the Optimity Team
(5 min read)
Defining Corporate Wellness and the Importance of Getting It Right
The most common “definition” of a Corporate wellness program (sometimes called employee wellness programs) is a program designed to establish a work environment that promotes employee’s holistic well-being by creating an organizational health culture. The keywords in this definition are promotes – meaning it’s driven and championed by the company – and the holistic – meaning the program goes far beyond the benefits package of medical, dental, and vision.
Some examples include low-tech efforts such as: changing the physical working environment, implementing new policies and wellness programs, holding seminars about healthy lifestyle choices, and holding company events to boost employee morale and build relationships with other co-workers.
A few hi-tech solutions such as longitudinal tracking of employee health through biometric (wearable devices) and AI-driven behavior changes.
Employers may consider corporate wellness programs for different reasons. Some of the most common reasons include: managing chronic disease in the workforce, boosting employee morale and productivity, reducing absenteeism and high turnover rates, increasing job satisfaction and engagement, and reducing employee medical costs.
COVID-19 has made implementing a Corporate Wellness program less about a nice to have, but more of a must-have pillar for workplaces.
In the following, we look at the top five must-have components of any corporate wellness if it is to be considered a success.
5. Biometric Screenings
Biometric screenings are short, often in person but sometimes virtual or digital, health exams that can include bloodwork and body composition measurements. They can also include digital questionnaires or surveys on any medications, health risks, or habits.
Regardless of the method, biometrics screenings are designed to a) establish a health baseline for employees, and b) provide a longitudinal picture of an individual’s health. The ultimate goal of biometric screenings is the same: to help employees and their families stay healthier by identifying potential health risks and helping curb existing ones.
With more employees working remotely, and with privacy issues becoming more top of mind, many companies turn to solutions like health and wellness apps to not only have a snapshot of their workforce’s health but also reward them for healthy behaviors such as walking, stretching, and maintaining a healthy diet. All the data is passed through as aggregate data so no individual’s information is disclosed.
4. Organized Group Activities
Countless studies and anecdotal stories have proven that individuals who participate in group activities or work towards a health goal with a buddy are much more likely to stick with their plan and achieve their (health) goals.
Employers leverage this finding by encouraging intramural team sports, building in-house gyms, or subsidizing membership fees for gyms or sports leagues.
Again, with the effects of COVID-19 (social distance, working remotely, lack of funding) many companies are turning towards digital solutions to solve this problem. One popular and low-cost option is to use a health app that allows employees to “challenge” each other on walking distance or maintain an activity streak. Best of all, the employees are able to gain points for their hard work and redeem them for items (Garmin smartwatch, anyone?!) which will in turn help with their physical activity.
3. Financial Education and Health
Wait, how does learning about IRAs and 401Ks align with wellness? Well, you can look at any number of studies that show a VERY strong correlation between one’s financial standing (health) and their physical and mental health.
So many forward-thinking organizations also incorporate financial wellness as part of their corporate wellness program. This can take many forms such as:
- having a financial professional talk about savings options
- instituting a savings match program where for every dollar the employee saves the company matches it
- providing employees with financial calculators and savings tools
Many well-rounded corporate wellness programs include financial wellness tools as perks or negotiate discounts well known financial wellness programs. For example, Optimity teamed up with Welathsimple to launch a survey to gauge individual’s knowledge of taxes.
2. Nutritional Coaching
The food and drink a person ingests is a big piece of the puzzle. “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75% diet and 25% exercise,” according to Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic. And nutritional coaching is exactly what the name implies: a (virtual or digital) coach that can help an individual reach their health goals through dietary changes. These goals may range from needing to lose (or gain) a few pounds, to more complex goals such as those dealing with diabetes or heart disease.
There are a lot of health apps that help with keeping you on the right track when it comes to nutrition, but the most effective ones are able to also include rewards to encourage that healthy behavior.
1. Mental Health
Given that mental health affects nearly 25% of the entire US population and costs associated with mental health will reach $250 billion per year, it is definitely one of the most important aspects of any corporate wellness program.
Including mental health as part of corporate wellness can include anything from having an on-site therapist to covering costs of psychotherapist sessions to providing employees proven tools to help themselves maintain their mental health.
Are you interested in helping your company make a difference in the mental well-being of your employees? Find additional helpful features to include in your employee wellness program in our 2021 Consumer Insights Report, you can download it from our website.