Focused Wellness: The Importance of Addressing the Needs of At-Risk Employees
Updated: Apr 30
Incorporating a wellness program into your workplace, especially one with an appealing incentive, can broadly benefit both your employees and your organization. Building a workplace culture that values wellness and well-being can boost employee morale, lower stress, increase productivity, and attract and retain talented hires. Many of these benefits can be achieved up to a certain level with a “feel-good” wellness program without any risk-focused elements, so why are so many organizations choosing to deepen their understanding of the risks posed to their employees’ well-being and creating targeted programs to address them? Here, we’ll cover just a few of the reasons why a risk-focused wellness program could benefit your organization:
The Bottom Line
While many of the benefits of a “feel-good” wellness program mentioned above can certainly translate into financial returns, especially over a sustained period, risk-focused wellness initiatives can often show concrete, quantifiable cost savings in a shorter time frame. As an example, studies have shown that employees who smoke cost their employer an additional $6,000 per year on average. A program that relies solely on wellness topics that are broadly applicable (such as healthy eating and fitness) may help smokers make some healthy changes but is less likely to provide the tailored education and support needed to help them change their smoking habits. In contrast, a targeted smoking-reduction program, along with thorough and accurate pre and post evaluation strategies, can directly benefit the well-being of those employees as well as your organization’s bottom line. The ability to demonstrate cost-savings at this level can also help you ensure that your program stays funded and continues to grow.
While it makes sense to design a wellness program to meet the interests of most of your work force, it is important to remember that by sticking to the basics, you may skim over the needs of some of your at-risk employees, foregoing the chance to address these risks and possibly even making some employees feel excluded from fully participating in your program. For example, an employee living with diabetes may find little relevant to them in a nutrition program aimed at the average adult. However, if your wellness curriculum were supplemented with risk-focused programming such as nutrition for diabetes-management, more employees might feel included in your program. A successful wellness program should balance broad appeal with providing the opportunities for employees with specific needs to pursue their wellness goals.
Making an Impact
For most of us working in wellness, our ultimate goal is to help others improve their health and well-being, and nothing is more gratifying than seeing that happen before our eyes. By narrowing the scope and concentrating on particular healthy changes that directly impact a certain issue, risk-focused wellness programs can result in real, measurable changes to both objective health metrics (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) as well as health behaviors (such as exercise, smoking, etc.) even over a short period of time. An example close to home, Wellness Workdays recently piloted a new targeted high-risk program which saw significant reductions in both blood pressure and bodyweight among participants in just 12 weeks!
Expanding your wellness plan to address needs beyond the basics could greatly benefit all aspects of your program. Are you ready to take the next steps? If so, it is important to remember that risk-focused wellness programs are most effective when they are designed and led by trained wellness experts following evidence-based behavior-change theories. Wellness Workdays can partner with you to provide this expertise, as well as a customized strategy to keep your program in line with the needs and goals of all stakeholders including you, your employees, and your organization.
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