How employee wellness programs support sustainability
What do employee wellness programs have to do with sustainability? If employees endure a stressful state of being for a long period of time, they experience burnout. This affects a company’s overall productivity and profitability. How does one sustain a stressful environment, attend to numerous job demands and sustain a work-life balance? We could write it off as an individual responsibility, but forward-thinking employers might ask, “How can we help our employees find balance?” Sustainability, by definition, requires a long-term view. We are not necessarily going to see immediate impacts with wellness, although we can. When we are taking a holistic, sustainable approach we are looking at the big picture for employee balance, productivity, and profitability.
Overwhelming empirical evidence confirms that workplace stress, and the related employee disengagement, costs U.S. employers an estimated $450-$550 billion per year in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover (Global Wellness Institute). Stress has been estimated to cause 90% of doctor visits because it causes many symptoms of illness.
In 2019, employees need to know that their employer cares about them as an individual. A whopping 79% of employees believe it is a dual responsibility of employee and employer to help reduce workplace stress. One way to support employees is a robust employee well-being program.
A 2010 report1 by a team of Harvard University health economists, published in the journal Health Affairs, found that the average medical cost savings per dollar invested in wellness programs were $3.27. The report’s finding was based on an analysis of more than 20 peer-reviewed ROI studies.
If the only targeted result of an employee well-being program is direct cost savings, this is a good start. But can there be more benefits to the return on investment?
One successful well-being program, WellConnect, is offered to non-traditional students at ECPI University by its Student Resource Services department. The program provides support and well-being 24/7, 365 days a year, including resources such as:
- Telephonic counseling with mental health professionals
- Housing location and assistance programs
- Childcare location and assistance programs
- Local attorney referrals at reduced rates.
“Increasingly, employers are interested in outcomes beyond health care savings,” says LuAnn Heinen, vice president at the nonprofit National Business Group on Health and director of the group’s Institute on Innovation in Workforce Well-Being. “Health and well-being are part of a broader workforce strategy that seeks to impact business outcomes such as recruitment, retention, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.“1 In ECPI University’s case, its WellConnect program impacts students’ well-being directly.
 Article: Does a New Study Underestimate Wellness Programs? in The Society for Human Resource Management — SHRM.org