Corporate wellness programs are popular in executive suites
because they can lead to healthier profits. Shocking? Anyone who believes employee wellness programs are instituted mainly for the benefit of enrolled employees probably
didn’t take Business 101.
CORPORATE WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Companies are formed to make money by providing products or
services to customers. They are not formed to look after the health and
well-being of people they employ. It is not their responsibility to do so,
although they cannot take the health and safety of their employees for granted.
Workplace laws have been enacted to prevent such abuses.
So why do corporations operate wellness programs if not for
altruistic reasons? First, benefit packages that include wellness programs are
attractive to people being recruited, and it is in the best interests of an
employer to attract as many applicants for a position as it can. Second,
employees who actively try to maintain or improve their health through wellness
programs and other fitness regimens generally are more productive on the job.
This was evident a full decade ago. A Health Affairs survey at
that time revealed that companies with corporate wellness programs had nearly
30 percent less sick leave taken, a similar reduction in workers compensation
and disability costs, and about 25 percent lower direct health care costs.
Those kinds of savings are noticeable in any well-managed
company, particularly in periods of economic struggle such as the U.S. is
currently experiencing. So it is not surprising that, according to a March 2011
report by the GlobalFit healthy living organization, companies continue to turn
to corporate health and wellness programs to firm up their work forces.
EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAMS
In the GlobalFit survey of 2,000 U.S. companies, large and
small, 31 percent declared they started programs to reduce their overall health
care costs. Nearly 70 percent of them gave incentives to employees to complete
a health assessment. Nearly as many offered employees additional benefits, such
as more vacation, when they followed a recommended health routine.
The bottom line for those companies—and any company, for
that matter—is clear: Through corporate wellness programs, employees can build
up their endurance, strength, and general healthfulness and become more
productive, valuable members of an organization. That they are personally
healthier is a bonus.
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