Guest columnist Bettye Baldwin is managing principal of human resources firm Retention Strategies. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)
The first question you are likely asking yourself after reading the above headline is — “How could wellness possibly increase my profitability? Wellness is just a buzz word.”
Growing your business by increasing your profitability through wellness is indeed possible, and we will provide here a summary of the (1) why, (2) how, (3) when and (4) who.
(1) Why? Healthy employees with healthy families always — and we mean always – have a better-balanced lifestyle and are more productive at their jobs. Productive, engaged employees comprise a work force that simply cares more about the business and contributes to its growth through higher quality products, better service and more sales.
(2) How? The quick answer is: Develop a complete wellness focused culture within your organization with the executive team “walking the talk”. Our consulting recommendation to accomplish this is to develop a “Wellness Tool Kit” with some or all of the following tools:
• Executive team commitment. A wellness culture cannot be developed with only Human Resources or Occupational Health leading the effort.
• Develop metrics in four key areas:
1. Reducing your health care costs
2. Reducing your absenteeism rates
3. Reducing your disability plan costs (short term, sick days, SINOT)
4. Increasing your productivity — this happens when you decrease your absenteeism rates
These metrics must be developed analytically and realistically, and we recommend full communication and regular up-dates so that all employees are aware of the measurements.
Develop and brand a specific program focused on assisting your employees and their family on the path to wellness
Research indicates that employees don’t participate in these programs unless incentivized to do so. While we may not agree that we should have to provide incentives to participate in a program that we, as employers, are providing, it is a proven necessity for the programs success.
(3) When? Like with most programs that increase profitability, the answer is always the sooner the better. That is true with a wellness program, also, but it is better to approach with careful planning, ensuring that whatever is developed will be followed through for many years in the future.
This is one realistic caution. That profit increase we are discussing is there, for sure, but it is not immediate. Research indicates that real results from wellness programs don’t begin until the second year of the program, and then increase from there for the next three years.
(4) Who? A successful wellness program requires time, teamwork, and a lot of support from insurance carriers, executive teams and employees. Typically all companies are lean staffed these days, so the resource to lead this effort — and at no additional charge for the company — is your broker.