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Corporate wellness programmes work

The recent article in

The Royal Gazette published on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 entitled “Study: No quick savings from workplace wellness” reported on a recent study by independent researchers that raised doubts about the benefits of companies implementing corporate wellness programmes, bore off of what has been called “the most rigorous look yet inside the wellness trend.”

However, you only have to look at the increasing amount of studies that counter this argument to conclude that a corporate wellness programme implemented in the correct manner and for the correct purpose can not only fundamentally change the way a company values its employees but dramatically reduce healthcare costs and sick leave, increase productivity and perhaps more importantly for those that look after the bottom line, produce high returns on every dollar invested.

As identified, the manner in which the wellness programme is implemented will undoubtedly have an effect on its perceived success. The aforementioned article states that “employers have been upping the ante linking the programmes to insurance discounts or penalties” thus pressuring employees to quit smoking, lose weight and to partake in regular exercise.

This is perhaps the more interesting debate raised by the article, in that any successful wellness programme should have, as its core principle, the high value a company places on its employees and not one manifested from financial gain. A good corporate wellness programme is a marriage between looking after your employees and reaping the rewards. Giving them the opportunity to thrive and improve, financial benefits will follow.

As with almost everything in this modern, sceptical day and age there will be a study identifying the pros and, just as quickly, a study will be created to analyse the cons, however you do not need to be a technical genius to research the evidence and reputable studies that show why most major companies have wellness programmes and more and more smaller companies are signing up.

The International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association (IHRSA) identifies that Motorola returned $3.93 and Bank of America $3 on every dollar they invested. Harvard studies have shown returns of up to $6.

The US Surgeon General reports that 75 percent of all illnesses can be attributed to lifestyle — related causes. The mportance of giving your employees the platform to live an active health lifestyle will also dramatically reduce the company’s healthcare costs and absenteeism levels.

In fact, a Harvard report that analysed the findings of 22 different studies related to corporate wellness and found an average medical saving of $358 per employee, per year, with IHRSA identifying a drop of almost a third in absenteeism rates for those that partook in regular physical exercise.

There are also the overwhelming personal benefits to the employee. In addition to the obvious health benefits such as a reduction in the possibility of heart disease, high blood pressure, cardio respiratory problems and weight gain, those that take part in a wellness programme report improved moral, improved outlooks and attitudes and increased vitality all leading to a more productive workforce.

Purdue University found that people who exercise improve their decision-making abilities by a massive 70 percent. Furthermore, General Motors reports a 40 percent decrease in lost time through their wellness programme.

At The Athletic Club in Hamilton we believe that a well-maintained wellness programme is ‘a must’ for all modern companies.

That workplace wellness is not only a great tool for companies to show their employees how much they are valued, but a way a company can help itself to attract and retain the best staff.

We support Mr Lipstein’s comment in the article that “encouraging employees to make healthy lifestyle decisions and rewarding those who do reflects corporate values, not just the bottom line.”

With that in mind, it also makes sound business sense to invest in their employees in order to reduce healthcare costs, absenteeism and reduce overall outgoings.

We believe that no company, no matter how large or small should neglect the proven results from a suitable wellness programme, this is why we design our programmes around each individual company’s needs and have options for all sizes of workforces.

Debate will no doubt continue, however consider this: one has to spend money to indeed make money, and if there was doubt that employers may not save money then surely many companies would simply not have an active wellness programme and find other areas to invest their money.

It is somewhat nonsensical to suggest that many major companies would invest into a programme that will not bring about any return. Indeed, in an era where the workforce is better educated and more proactive when it comes to their health, then the benefits to both the company and the employee far outweigh the required investment.

For more information on The Athletic Club’s Corporate Wellness programme please contact Gary McRobert, assistant manager at The Athletic Club on 295-6140.

Fitness drive: Hitting the treadmills at The Athletic Club. Photo by Tamell Simons

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Published April 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2013 at 8:15 pm)

Corporate wellness programmes work

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