The Inside Guide to Employee Wellness

businessman-going-to-gymIn 2014, Sir Richard Branson famously said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.” This quote received a lot of attention at the time, but what does it truly mean?

It is becoming increasingly clear that employee wellness is critical to the success of any organization. This certainly helps to explain the rise of corporate wellness programs, and it comes as no surprise that the most successful businesses in the world all have their own wellness coordinators.

But does the hiring of a wellness team guarantee a good return on investment?

According to a large U.S. meta-analysis published in 2010, for every $1 spent on employee wellness, average healthcare costs fell by $3.27, and absentee day costs fell by $2.73.

In addition to the above, corporate wellness programs have also been associated with:

  • Increased employee morale and engagement in the company’s mission and goals by 67% (The Economist Intelligence Unit & Humana 2015)
  • Improved employee retention by 45% (Principal Financial Well-Being Index in 2013)
  • Improvement in employee happiness and well-being by 89% (The Economist Intelligence Unit & Humana 2015)

But ensuring that a wellness program becomes successful is slightly different. The key elements of wellness programs were outlined in a paper published by the World Health Organisation in 2010. They identified five revealing stages that are paramount to success:

  1. Leadership commitment and engagement
  2. Involve employees and their representatives
  3. Business ethics and legality
  4. The use of a systematic, comprehensive process to ensure effectiveness and continual improvement
  5. Long-term sustainability and integration

There are also many questions a company would want answering before undertaking the services of a wellness consultant. How do they know their services will meet the health needs of their employees?

Remembering that health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, it follows that any successful health and wellness program must also integrate each of these three areas.

As a doctor over the last 18 years, it has become apparent to me that stress is the root cause of most, if not all illness. Identifying and helping to reverse the various types of stress, be it physical, mental or social, can have remarkable effects on individual health in a very short space of time.

So when it comes to identifying a suitable wellness program for your employees, always ask the following questions:

  1. How will this program support the physical health of my employees?
  2. How will it support the mental health or emotional well-being of my employees?
  3. How will it support the social health of my employees?

There are many ways to support these areas successfully, but the best ways will always be the simplest ones that are easy to implement and maintain. In my experience, wholesale lifestyle and dietary changes are not only difficult to sustain but also unnecessary. Often, people only need to commit to 2-3 small changes to rapidly improve their health over a short period of time.

So pick the low hanging fruit that your team can collectively agree on. Monitor the effectivity, make necessary changes over time, and integrate these changes into your organization’s culture.

And if the results are anything less than outstanding, feel free to get in touch with me.

Dr. Shan Hussain

Dr. Shan Hussain

Dr. Shan Hussain is a health and wellness advisor, general practitioner, and founder of The Health Studio Ltd. He is the author of the bestselling book The Big Prescription.

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