The health of an employee often directly affects his or her performance and rate of absenteeism. This is why employee wellness programs are so common in workplaces today. However, not all wellness programs are created equal. Here’s what works and what doesn’t when it comes to employee wellness programs.

Health Education

According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, health education is an important aspect of employee wellness programs. Health education programs should be fact-based and help employees set individual health goals. The information should be delivered both verbally and in print to ensure workers retain it. Health education programs should avoid using scare tactics as a method of encouraging employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Scare tactics are ineffective at promoting change, as they often portray worst-case scenarios that employees believe wouldn’t happen to them.

One way to increase the efficacy of health education is to integrate occupational safety into the curriculum. Doing so may help to increase worker participation in the wellness program. It also provides a more comprehensive approach to employee health and fosters a safer, healthier work environment.

Weight Management

Weight has a significant effect on an individual’s health, which is why many employee wellness programs seek to help employees lose weight. One common way wellness programs attempt to achieve this is through wellness challenges and weight loss competitions. Unfortunately, this approach is not effective in the long-term and many employees regain the weight they lost. The majority of weight management programs focus on short-term results rather than sustainability.

According to Wellable, there is little evidence to support the efficacy of weight management programs, whereas encouraging physical activity throughout the workday seems to be more beneficial. This can be something as simple as encouraging workers to get up and walk around every hour. For a more in-depth approach, employers may offer exercise classes, on-site walking paths, or employee gym memberships. Getting employees to partake in physical activity can be a stepping stone to other positive health behaviors.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

The most effective way to influence employee health is by creating a culture of wellness in the workplace, according to UC Davis. It is important that the changes needed to achieve this are implemented gradually, as a big, sudden change may cause negative reactions from employees. Start with something small, such as encouraging workers to get in physical activity during the workday or offering healthier snacks in the vending machines.

It is also important for employees to feel they are maintaining their autonomy during this culture shift. There are many ways to encourage wellness without undermining worker autonomy. For example, instead of getting rid of all unhealthy cafeteria food, offer healthier options at lower prices. This encourages employees to make healthy choices without making them feel as if they are being forced to eat healthily.

Creating an effective employee wellness program is key to boosting employee performance and lowering the rates of absenteeism. Providing workers with the knowledge, resources, and support they need plays a big role in helping an employee achieve better health. If you haven’t evaluated your employee wellness program lately, it might be a good time to look at it and make the necessary changes to ensure that it works the best for your employees.

An important part of employee wellness is a healthy work-life balance. Check out this other article on a new way to approach work-life balance!

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