Now more than ever, healthy employees are being considered integral to a productive work environment.

Once considered second, if not at all, to better pay and other company benefits, employee health is now a vital indicator of the organization’s overall health. The nature of work is evolving, and so is the perception of employee health and happiness

A growing number of organizations are recognizing the connection between a safe and healthy work environment and overall productivity. Helping employees maintain both healthy physical and mental wellbeing has become a mainstay of thriving work environments.

Here are some ways and examples of how to create an environment that improves both productivity and happiness.

Why Employee Health Matters in the Workplace

The attention employee health is receiving is only a recent development.

Even today, many employers are unaware of the relationship between productive business operations and employee health and wellness. Investing in this vital area of focus not only affects the work environment for all people, but it also has a vital impact on the company’s bottom line. 

However, as the work environment has changed, so have employee work habits that have exposed the importance of mental and physical health. The technological advancements made in the past decade have changed the work-life balance for many employees, allowing them to work at all hours. 

This change, coupled with the almost constant presence of devices competing for our attention, has contributed to greater experiences of employee stress.

On top of that, jobs requiring movement have slowly been replaced by sedentary tasks, with the possibility that employees aren’t receiving enough exercise. 

This has become especially evident with the dramatic shift to working from home many organizations experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As up to 66% of U.S. employees are working remotely at least part-time, their health has been affected. The remote nature of work from home has led to many employees feeling like their work-life balance has been disrupted. 

A survey conducted by a sleep-related researcher Sleep Standards found that many employees working from home due to COVID-19 experience disruptions during sleep; out of the participants, 22% of Gen Xers found their sleep had been especially affected. Lack of sleep has a direct effect on lower productivity and should leave employers with concern.

In general, the health of your staff directly affects your bottom line. Whether from lower productivity to indirect employee health costs, the wellness of your employees can have a direct effect on your revenue. For example:

Another vital component of wellbeing is mental health, which can have an equally powerful effect on the workplace as your staff’s physical wellbeing. And those costs of poor workforce mental health cannot be ignored.

Estimates suggest that clinical depression alone is costing employers $31 billion to $51 billion per year in lost productivity. By 2030, the World Economic Forum predicts the global costs of mental health problems will total over $6 trillion.

Employers can no longer afford to ignore the health of their workforce. It’s essential for a happy, productive, and pleasant work environment

Four Benefits of Healthy Employees

Although there are numerous reasons to prioritize wellbeing, there are four significant benefits for investing in the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees

Create a Happy and Healthy Work Environment

Having stressed employees affects your workplace morale, but the opposite can also be true: Happy employees can create a more positive environment when they know their employer cares about their wellbeing. It improves staff morale all around, which in turn can be seen in greater productivity and higher rates of job satisfaction. 

If your business has company core values that include caring for those who support your organization, then providing resources for employees can show how your company genuinely appreciates them.

And in a changing work environment where almost half of job seekers cite company culture as essential when applying to a company, this is important for seeking out the best talent.  

Increase Employee Productivity

Good employee health correlates with increased productivity, not only in terms of output but also in decreased absenteeism.

Employees who exercise and eat healthily have been found to reduce absenteeism by 27%. The more present employees are, the less stress there is on others to help with picking up the slack from the ripple effect of frequent absences. 

There also is a correlation between healthy habits, such as exercise, and job performance. Employees with healthy living habits were found to have a 25% improved job performance over employees with unhealthy lifestyles. 

Gain Talented Employees

Employees are more likely to gravitate toward jobs where employers offer benefits that improve both their physical and mental wellbeing. A study found that, of the top benefits employees look for, 69% of employees priorities wellness programs that reward healthy behavior.

Additionally, health benefits can play a factor in employee retention. A recent survey found that 56% of U.S. adults considered health benefits as a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. 

Simply put, to find and keep the most qualified employees for your workplace, offer the best wellness benefits possible.

Reduce Costs for the Company

Prioritizing employee health can significantly reduce healthcare costs for employers and improve the company’s bottom line. Healthier employees get sick less often, which often allows them to qualify for lower health insurance rates. 

How Businesses Can Encourage Employee Health and Happiness

There are numerous ways employers can foster employee health and happiness in their workplace.

Some employers have made changes to their office design, such as providing office plants to produce fresher air and improve employee morale. Believe it or not, studies have even shown that adding greenery in the form of live plants in offices can improve happiness and productivity

However, one of the most popular options for employers is offering wellness programs that provide a variety of different options.

Wellness programs typically provide more than one option for employees, so employers can have access to a wide spectrum of ways to address employee health and wellness. By providing employees with healthy initiatives, you can help create a positive company culture and help prevent employee burnout, stress, and other issues that can affect morale. 

The Role Wellness Programs Play in Mental and Physical Health

Wellness programs can have a major impact on your employee health and company culture. Now more than ever, employers are seeing the connection between mental and physical health and work productivity.

Recently, about 75% of employers indicated that they offer some type of wellness program, resources, or services to employees. 

For many employees, wellness programs have the potential to increase their physical wellbeing. A survey found that 77% of participating employees said they would be more physically active if the employer had a gym they could use during work hours. Another similar study found that 53% of employees would participate in an exercise program if offered through their workplace to lower their health insurance costs. 

Wellness programs encourage not only physical wellbeing, but also mental as well. The American Psychological Association found that over 90% of employees at companies with well-supported wellness programs feel more motivated and productive. 

Besides a happier workplace and increased productivity, employers can also benefit from wellness programs from reduced healthcare costs.

Among 22 different studies that looked at the relationship between healthcare costs and employee wellness dollars, it was found that for every dollar that was spent on the program, the company saved $3.27 because of reduced healthcare costs – an average return on investment of 3.27.

As you can see, the benefits of a well-rounded wellness program extend throughout the entire company infrastructure. 

Five Examples of Successful Wellness Programs

Here are five examples of wellness programs that can help foster a healthy work environment

Exercise Programs and Activities

Depending on the wellness program you design for your company, employees can be offered memberships for gyms and studios, as well as access to personal trainers and fitness apps. This could include fully or partially paid memberships, depending on your plan. 

Virtual Classes

Wellness programs can find a host of online classes that offer a variety of wellness resources for employees, such as nutrition classes, yoga, and meditation.

Some employers have found that offering virtual wellness classes has been especially helpful for some employees as they mitigate stress while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wellness Initiatives and Challenges

Some wellness programs offer workplace initiatives related to health challenges for helping to promote healthy lifestyles within your workforce. Whether it’s 5K races or community events, office wellness challenges can be great for engaging the workplace in health initiatives.

Employee Assistance Programs 

Successful wellness programs are those that go beyond just an employee’s physical health.

Providing employee assistance programs, such as online counseling and other courses relating to dealing with stress and anxiety, can be extremely influential for helping improve your workforce’s mental health. 

Recruit the Help of a Wellness Platform

Offering holistic wellness initiatives is easier and more cost-effective with the help of a wellbeing partner like Gympass.

With Gympass, you can provide employees access to over  700+ activities, from physical fitness classes and personal training to meditation and nutrition!

They offer access to wellbeing partners that provide you with something for each of your employees’ wellness needs, creating a well-rounded wellness program your employees will love. 

Start optimizing your employees’ health with all the amazing benefits of Gympass. Sign up for it today – your all-in-one corporate wellbeing platform for developing a successful wellness program that boosts employee health and productivity.