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Advantages and Disadvantages of Wellness Program

Wellness Program

Introduction

Employees’ work for any kind of business is the backbone and the employers usually feel themselves in trouble if an employee is sick or any emergency happens to him or her. This sort of trouble can be reduced by the wellness program as per the belief of researchers. The wellness program simply defines a program that the employer usually takes as a complete package to take care of the employee. The wellness program benefits the employee as well as the employer because these programs allow the employer to take preventive measures to look after the employee’s health and avoid minor and major health issues. These programs also motivate the employees in that the employer is taking care of them and is not treating them as a working machine. By implementing wellness programs, there will be a smaller number of absentees due to a health issue, and the employees will be more productive as they will be free from getting worried about the health issues (Lankford, 2010).

According to the research, a large number of companies in United States are implementing the wellness programs to motivate the employees. The employees will be motivated as their cost of curing diseases will be reduced. However, sometimes a complete program is not possible to implement for the employers. In this scenario the employers can go for implementing small programs for wellness of the employees  (Lankford, 2010). These small programs or steps include:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wellness Program

This purpose of a wellness program at the workplace is:

  • Implementation of the wellness program will provide the employee with learning resources and health information. It will reduce the time delay that may be required if there is no plan available at work and worker causes himself an injury or suffers any disease(Walsh, 2011).
  • The health care activities do not focus on the individual only as it will not be as beneficial as it should be. It focuses on group activities so that all the workers can cooperate with one another and encourage one another to have a healthier life style. This can create a better working environment at the workplace where the workers have not only motivation but also cooperation with one another (Walsh, 2011).
  • The employers who focus on providing health care incentives to the employee have a better reputation not only within the workplace but also outside the workplace. Workers feel safer and more comfortable inside the workplace, since precautionary measures are already taken by the employer in the event of an emergency and the client finds the employer to be faithful to his worker, resulting in better performance from the workers. (Walsh, 2011).
  • Implementing a wellness program at the workplace will make things available in black and white, which will reduce the chances of occurrence of any backlash with the worker who thinks that he/she is not treated as the others. And there will be a clear policy defined for health care (Walsh, 2011).
  • The essential purpose of the wellness plan is to maximize the productivity and minimize the absence of the workers (Walsh, 2011).

Previously employers experienced lot of bother due to the sickness of their employees as virtually there used to be at least one patient among them. This made them realize that employees should be utilized round the year at the optimum level in order to extract maximum benefits and attain efficiency from human resource (Petrecca, 2009).

The problem that is required to be analyzed is whether the wellness programs carry some worth for employers. Can a wellness program generate results that could help employers maximize their human resource efficiency?

Advantages

As there are always pros and cons of everything, similar is the case with the wellness program at the workplace. Multiple research works have been done to find out the pros and cons. The study conducted by Harvard University estimated that the employers spend one dollar to reduce about $53.27 medical costs and spend one dollar to reduce $2.73 absenteeism costs  (Lankford, 2010). The report suggests that the organization that looks into both the finance and employees healthcare cannot measure the value of the wellness program. It is very difficult for the employers to implement the wellness program as the employers may face a backlash with the employees as there may be a number of employees who do not want their bosses to push them to do exercise.

  • Care Is Better Than Diseases

It is prefer to facilitate the employee according to seasons that means some seasons have already defined health issues that can cause the employee to get sick and go for sick leaves that can be or one day or one week or etc This would cost the employer to suffer the loss of work. Therefore, it is better to have preventive health care plan such as the vaccination can be brought to workplace for winter season or if it is not possible to bring the vaccination at work place then the employer should reimburse the employee for the vaccination fees (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Encourage Exercise

Exercise will make the employee active and there will be fewer chances that the employees get tired after working very little. The employer should encourage the employee for exercise. This can be done by encouraging employees to use stairs instead to elevators and by making a deal with gyms to provide discounted membership to the employee. The employees can also be encouraged for exercise if the employer offers them the incentive for taking part in these sorts of activities (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Emphasize Education

Educating the employee on the importance of health will bring up good results. This can be easily done by hiring an instructor to educate the employees on meals that can be healthy for them, the way of cooking healthy meals and, most importantly, meals that can cause a disease to them. Another important aspect that must be communicated to the employees is how the employees can reduce work stress so that they will not get ill by anxiety (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Bring the Doctor in

Sometimes the employees get ill at the workplace and they need to leave the workplace to visit the doctor. All this is a waste of time and productivity of the employee, and the reputation of the employer gets worse as there is no one at the workplace to look after the employees in case of emergency. Therefore, for the wellness at the workplace, it is required to have a doctor there to avoid all the issues mentioned above. This will motivate the employees as the employers take care of the employees (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Hone Hunger Options

Provide employees with meals that are not only tasty but also healthy. It will enhance their productivity and will reduce the chance of getting diseases such as food poison.  It has now become the trend that the employers provide healthy meals to the employees at the workplace for their wellness (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Offer Incentive to the Employee

The employers can offer the employees incentives for engaging themselves in healthy activities. This is a big motivating factor for the employees as their health is not only maintained but also the expenses they made for the cure of the diseases are reduced.

  • Be Mindful of Mental Health

The employees who work in stress cannot produce quality work as they will not be mentally present at work and working under this condition will lead to multiple diseases. The employer can offer the employees an assistance program to get rid of stress and focus on work (Lastowka, 2011).

Different surveys were conducted to know the view and importance of a wellness program. One of the surveys that asked the employees the reason for participating in the wellness program found that 43 % of employees participate in the wellness program for the sake of physical benefit while 31% said they participated because they expected that this would extend the life; one third said that they participated for the sake of saving money on health care. Regarding the benefits that the employees get from the wellness program, 43% employees said that they got motivated from these programs and 28% said that due to illness, they missed the working days, so these programs are expected to give them the edge of reducing their absence. The number of employees taking advantage of the wellness program has now increased by 25% as compared to the previous year, as the employees are aware of the program and benefits of these wellness programs. The survey concludes that it is the right time to implement the wellness programs at the work place to reduce the diseases and to maximize the productivity of the workers. This will also reduce the number of absent employees.

Some measures that could help in generating the maximum result can be utilized by the employers efficiently.

  • Compare Out-of-pocket Costs

If the plans are available, then it is recommended to compare not only premium but also the cost factor as a large number of employers are now increasing the premium payment share of the employees.

  • Consider a Consumer-directed Plan

The consumer directed plans are opted by the employers in different ways. It may be either in replacement of other plan or in combination of other plan. 60 % of employers intend to offer the directed plan in combination with the health saving account while 20% will make a plan without any combination. However, Pearce Weaver, senior vice-president of Fidelity Consulting, said they would reduce the premiums and contribute toward the employee’ HSAs (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Contributions to an HSA

Contribution to an HAS will be beneficial not only in the short run but also in the long run. If an investment is made in the HSA, for an HAS eligibility, the policy has a deductible of $1,200 or more for single coverage and $2,400 for family coverage (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Grab the Wellness Incentives

The employees are now offer to grab the incentive for participating in the wellness activities as the employers are now moving to reduce the cost of preventive care. This is the opportunity for the employees to take advantage of this offer and have an average bonus of $386 (Lastowka, 2011).

  • Order Generic Drugs

Now the employers are reducing the cost by switching towards the generic drugs. The employees are now trying to move from the brand name to generic drugs. In addition, the requirements are fulfilled through mail orders that reduce the cost at large (Lastowka, 2011).

Disadvantages

  • Privacy Issues

The main issue that comes with wellness program goes against employees as they are required to share their private issues with employer. Employees who fail to perform up to the standard, the reason could be associated with that health issue without proper analysis.

  • Employee Habits

For an employer it is not easy to make employees work on the recommendation made by the physician as grown up people could not be tracked away from their routine activities like excessive drinking etc.

  • Upfront Cost

The benefits of wellness programs can only be reaped to maximum in the long run. For the initial one or two years employer has to bear the cost without any advantages.

Conclusion

Wellness at the workplace is not only beneficial for a better environment inside the workplace but also gives a sense of care and importance by the employer to the employees, which, in turn, shows the people outside the workplace how sincere the employers are with the employees. There are many ways to implement the wellness program. It can be done by implementing a complete plan or by implementing some small plans in the short run and then turn to the complete plan in the long run. The importance of the wellness plan cannot be ignored as it has many benefits such as reduction of absent employees and enhancement of their productivity.

Recommendations

Measures recommended above can be taken to initiate wellness at the workplace. If the employers cannot afford a comprehensive wellness plan, it is recommended to opt for some of these steps as the beginning and then move forward to the other steps. If these steps result in getting wellness onto the right path, the employers may wish to implement a comprehensive program for wellness at the workplace. This will benefit employees in many ways, especially in enhancing productivity (Lieber, 2010).

It could be easily concluded that the wellness program has both short and long term benefits. However, employers need to adopt a 3600 dimension approach in order to make it effective (Lieber, 2010).

References
  • Lankford, K. (2010, November). Ease the pain of higher health-care costs. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from Kiplinger: http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/ease-the-pain-of-higher-healthcare-costs.html.
  • Lastowka, L. (2011, November 1 ). 8 ways to promote wellness in the workplace. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://www.inc.com/guides/2011/01/8-ways-to-promote-wellness-in-the-workplace.html.
  • Lieber, R. (2010, December 21). Incentivize your way to good health in 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/your-money/01money.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
  • Petrecca, L. (2009, June 6). Companies pushing wellness must step lightly with workers. Retrieved 12 4, 2012, from USA Today: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2009-06-16-wellness-workers_N.htm.
  • Walsh, J. (2011, April 7). Wellness plans : health promotion program – developing goals and objectives. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from Wellness Programs: http://wellness-plans.org/wellness-plans-health-promotion-program-developing-goals-and-objectives/

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