What is wellness?
At Spectrum Health Systems we believe in incorporating the whole realm of employee wellness from a social, financial, physical and emotional perspective. In a society where so much value and emphasis is placed on productivity, employee absenteeism and the rise of chronic disease is permitting companies from achieving new heights. Not being able to work at optimum levels over a long period of time will, ultimately, cost the employer. Innovative organizations are now moving towards a more holistic “culture of wellbeing” that takes into account the social, psychological, and physical health of employees. Companies committed to creating a healthier culture look for low turnover rates, a larger selection of top candidates for job openings, fewer absences, and increases in sales and productivity.
Why is it important?
Research shows that companies are utilizing wellness as a business strategy to enhance their productivity. A 2012 Rand Corp study found that about half of U.S. employers with 50 or more workers offer workplace wellness programs, and the share rises to 90 percent in organizations as employee numbers increase. A team of researchers from Iowa State University conducted a program with three Iowa manufacturers. More than 80 percent of employees were obese or overweight, based on body composition which compares body fat to lean body mass. Nearly 45% of employees were at high to very high risk for chronic disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Beyond the physical
One unique aspect of comprehensive wellness programs is the knowledge that there is a strong correlation between physical and financial health. The ability to control what you eat or what you spend, how to use your time and whether or not you exercise can help to improve an individual’s self-control and all areas of that person’s life.
A study by ComPsych Corp. showed that many employees are in such poor emotional health they are not likely to support or sustain healthy lifestyle changes. Poor emotional and physical well-being can cause people to self-medicate by overeating or using other substances. According to the report, 40 percent of the employees stated an emotional or physical health problem has interfered with their daily normal activities.
Where are we headed?
The National Business Group on Health reports that over the next three to five years, 48 percent of employers intend to shift their focus toward wellness programs that improve productivity, and reduce absence rather than fixating on healthcare costs alone.
By Tyler Smith, MS
Onsite Wellness Coordinator