Im­por­tance of em­ployee wel­fare

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To­day’s em­ploy­ers are de­vel­op­ing newer meth­ods of em­ployee re­ten­tion and are mo­ti­vat­ing em­ploy­ees to say thank you for tak­ing care of their liveli­hood through well­ness pro­grams in­sti­tuted at work­places.

The fo­cus on em­ployee well­ness has in­ten­si­fied as health in­di­ca­tors — body mass in­dex, choles­terol and blood sugar lev­els in­di­cat­ing di­a­betic and pre­di­a­betic con­di­tions — have risen to un­healthy lev­els in many work­ers. Both em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees are pay­ing dearly for work­days heavy on com­puter screen time and full of stress. There has been a con­sid­er­able rise in health care costs for em­ploy­ers in the past few years.

As part of sim­ple well­ness pro­grams, em­ploy­ers are of­fer­ing perks in the form of healthy meals at cost for all em­ploy­ees and free fruit and yogurt in break rooms. Em­ploy­ees are paid cash for meet­ing weight man­age­ment goals and they can win prizes such as ipods and power tools just by tak­ing part in the pro­gram. Also, there are em­ploy­ers who have vir­tu­ally no bud­get for an of­fi­cial pro­gram, but do have a stair­case to make em­ploy­ees go up and down many times a day.

Over­all, there are a vast num­ber of types of work­place well­ness pro­grams. In gen­eral, such pro­grams en­cour­age peo­ple to take steps to pre­vent the on­set or wors­en­ing of a health con­di­tion or sick­ness and to adopt life­styles that are health­ier. Work­place well­ness ini­tia­tives im­prove com­pany pro­duc­tiv­ity by: • At­tract­ing su­pe­rior qual­ity

staff • Re­duc­ing the rate of

ab­sen­teeism and time lost • En­hanc­ing on- the- job time uti­liza­tion and decision mak­ing • Im­prov­ing worker morale, which in turn low­ers staff turnover To ini­ti­ate an ef­fec­tive well­ness pro­gram it is es­sen­tial to get sup­port from se­nior man­age­ment just like any other pol­icy mat­ter in an or­ga­ni­za­tion. The in­vest­ment as­pect of the pro­gram must be pre­sented to the man­age­ment. It is also nec­es­sary to ad­dress the needs, at­ti­tudes and pref­er­ences of em­ploy­ees while de­sign­ing the pro­gram. The pos­si­ble el­e­ments of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that would be in­volved in the pro­gram may in­clude, union/ worker rep­re­sen­ta­tives, man­age­ment, health and safety pro­fes­sion­als, hu­man re­source pro­fes­sion­als, em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram ( EAP) provider and ex­ter­nal com­mu­nity health clubs.

It would also be help­ful to ac­knowl­edge an ex­ist­ing group, for in­stance peo­ple go­ing for walks to­gether at lunch, to pro­mote the well­ness pro­gram at the work­place. This in­for­mal group can pos­si­bly be turned into a ‘ walk­ers’ mileage club’, where ev­ery­one is en­cour­aged to walk a lit­tle with suit­able re­wards. For an ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gram, it is nec­es­sary to make a strong plan of how to main­tain the em­ploy­ees’ in­ter­est in the pro­gram. Also, what re­sources ( time, money, peo­ple, etc.) would be re­quired is an im­por­tant plan­ning as­pect.

Ex­perts sug­gest that for­mally in­tro­duc­ing cor­po­rate poli­cies that state the im­por­tance of the work­place health pro­gram are es­sen­tial for the suc­cess of the ini­tia­tive.

The ben­e­fits for em­ploy­ers are ob­vi­ous. They pro­vide the com­pany with strate­gic ad­van­tages by in­vest­ing money in a pro­gram that will hope­fully lower ex­penses in re­turn, of­ten in the form of bet­ter per­form­ing work­ers and lower ab­sen­teeism and health care costs. Em­ploy­ees are the most valu­able as­sets for any com­pany. By pro­vid­ing work­ers with these ser­vices, com­pa­nies im­prove well­be­ing and job sat­is­fac­tion as well as raise re­ten­tion rates. The wel­fare of em­ploy­ees has a di­rect im­pact on the suc­cess of the com­pany. ◆

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