An Employee’s Over-all Well-Being is Key to a Successful Wellness Program

by: Nichole Gunn February 8, 2011

With healthcare costs hitting new highs in the U.S., employers are striving to create corporate wellness programs to help curtail the costs.

But, in an article for StarTribune.com, Rosie Ward, health management services manager for RJF Agencies Inc., advises that even though corporate wellness programs are implemented with the best of intentions, they often “prove to be unsustainable, and therefore unsuccessful.”

For wellness programs to be effective, employees must be engaged. To create an engaging workplace, employers need to address their employees’ overall well-being, not just quick-fix behavioral changes.

Referencing data from a study conducted by the Gallup Organization, Ward explains that well-being consists of five crucial elements:

  • Job satisfaction – the employee should enjoy what he/she does
  • Healthy social relationships – family and friends
  • Healthy finances – have the money for life’s necessities
  • Physically healthy – in order to be able to fulfill needs and goals
  • Community involvement – feeling a part of one’s community

The mix and interaction of the above elements will establish an individual’s state of well-being. And, of those five elements, career well-being was found to be the most important, since it can have a direct affect on the other four elements.

Engagement, according to the Gallup Organization, is a passion and connection that an employee feels toward the company he works for. A lack of engagement “costs American businesses more than $370 billion per year in lost productivity and has been associated with increased injury rates, declining mental health and decreased well-being.”

For engagement levels to be high, employees need to trust management and develop close relationships with coworkers. The employee also needs to have the basics to care for himself and his family. If these needs are not met, “then implementing a wellness program that focuses on specific health behaviors will likely be met with skepticism or even resentment."

While it is not being disputed that employee incentive programs are an effective means to help curtail excess health care costs, it is clear that the incentive initiatives must be balanced, along with a balanced and supportive workplace environment.

Employees need to know they are appreciated for their work related efforts and cared about as people; they don’t want to be seen as an expense to be dealt with.