This article was first published in NH Business Review
By Carol Phillips
“We can’t afford a wellness program.” I hear this on a regular basis and it immediately tells me this particular company doesn’t understand the value and purpose of an effective wellness program. As soon as we hire our first employee, we naturally want them to be 100% productive every day. However, most, if not all, employees have some level of “unwellness” and have days when they are not feeling well, which leads to a drop in productivity. At this point, companies begin to lose money. The purpose of a quality wellness program is to prevent and recover those losses.
Therefore, use these tips to change your focus, take better care of your valued employees, and increase your profits:
- Realize your employees are your greatest asset, and potentially, your biggest expense. Unhealthy employees cost U.S. companies $153 billion each year, according to a 2011 Gallup poll in which 110,000 employees were surveyed. Additionally, the poll did not include presenteeism, in which employees are at work, but for various reasons are not productive.
- Adopt an attitude in which creating and supporting employee health will provide a significant return on investment and be a contributing factor in growing your business.
- Treat your employees as well, if not better, than you treat your best potential client. Simple gestures, such as verbally greeting employees, sincerely asking how they are doing, and providing avenues to be supportive, go a long way to ensure they feel as important as the clients they serve.
- From their first day of hire, promote a culture of wellness. In addition to any health insurance coverage you may offer, make employees aware that your company cares about their health and wellness—and the health and wellness of their families. Be sure the actions of the company support that claim on an ongoing basis.
- Keep it positive. Instead of pushing wellness education and pressuring employees to take better care of themselves, model healthy behaviors and supply the tools they need to embrace health in a positive way. No one likes feeling like they’re being scolded.
- Track progress. If you’re not measuring the return on investment for your wellness program, you’ll be more likely to miss problems and less likely to continue investing in this crucial aspect of your business. Continually measure your investment and return so you know where to steer your wellness ship.
- Keep employees happy. Happy employees tend to be healthier employees, including a great reduction in stress. I believe in a giver’s gain mentality when focusing on productivity. Employees who feel cared for, appreciated and valued, will work exponentially harder than employees who feel their superiors keep taking as much as they can from their employees. Employers who fear giving will lead to employees taking advantage of their kindness are either not seeing the bigger picture or are hiring the wrong employees.
- Listen to your employees and encourage their participation in ideas for the business. Employees want to be heard and they also want to contribute to the success of the company. Employees who feel they are just a number are much more likely to be less productive, including taking more sick days, and also more likely to find a new employer. People need to feel valued and heard and it’s one of the most important parts of your job as an employer. Invest in regular, effective communication and follow-through.
- Consult with your health insurance company on a regular basis to take advantage of their wellness offerings. Wellness for your employees should also be at the top of their priority list. If not, perhaps it’s time to find a new insurance company.
- Have fun with your employees. People crave down time and laughter to balance their working hours. When employees only have fun outside of work, it can create a negative view of work, including reduced productivity, and increased stress. Investing in regular relaxed time with your employees builds better relationships and reduces health-related expenses.
Use these tips to take care of your greatest asset and grow your business. Both you and your employees will be less stressed and more energized about the work days ahead.
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Through her wellness programs, she helps companies significantly reduce costs and increase productivity. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.CoachCarolPhillips.com.