Navigating Benefits

How to Maintain a Healthy Workforce at Your Organization

  • Poor health and illnesses cost U.S. employers $530 billion annually in lost workplace productivity

  • Encourage colleagues to take care of their health to maximize productivity and decrease absenteeism

  • Consider offering workplace wellness programs, health coaches, on-site gyms and nutritious food options

Posted by February 12, 2019

A healthy workforce can save your organization money in a number of ways. In fact, the Integrated Benefits Institute reports that poor health and illnesses result in 1.4 billion days of employee absenteeism each year, costing U.S. employers $530 billion annually in lost productivity. This ultimately manifests in an added cost of $0.60 for every dollar that employers spend on health care benefits.

To avoid this at your company, encourage colleagues to take care of their health and consider investing in health and wellness programs to reduce lost work days, boost workplace productivity and add to the bottom line. A few strategies can help motivate employees to achieve and maintain optimal health; here are five you could implement at your workplace.

1. Encourage Staff to Utilize Health Benefits

Employees who regularly utilize their health benefits typically attend routine wellness checkups and dental cleanings, lowering their risk of developing gum disease, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Your organization can offer incentives for employees who schedule regular health checkups—which are often fully covered by insurance—as this can prevent more serious health complications and added health care costs from arising.

2. Offer Workplace Wellness Rooms

Employee wellness rooms serve numerous purposes and have been introduced at many businesses in recent years. These spaces are private areas employees can use for a number of reasons, including:

  • Stress relief through massage chairs
  • Natural light box therapy to ease seasonal depression
  • Medication administration
  • Nursing for new mothers
  • Meditation or stretching on yoga mats
  • Migraine or sensory relief

Wellness rooms are a perk many employees appreciate; offering one at your office can enhance employees’ mental health in addition to their physical well-being.

3. Create Workplace Wellness Programs

Employee wellness programs can improve workers’ health and save your company money over time. These offerings may involve screening employees for health risks through biometric scans or health risk assessments—in addition to utilizing on-site health coaches who promote healthy lifestyles with education and smoking cessation tactics as well as dietary and weight loss counseling.

Wellness programs may include the use of fitness trackers, workplace wellness/fitness competitions, even the use of standing desks to increase calorie expenditure and movement throughout the day. Such programs encourage employees to use health and wellness apps or online resources for free workouts.

A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that a healthier workforce improves productivity, lowers direct health care costs, decreases employee absenteeism and can save mid-sized companies almost $9,000 in just a two-year period.

4. Provide an On-Site Exercise Facility

With all the hustle and bustle of work, taking care of children and spending time with friends and family, many employees have difficultly finding time to exercise. Offering an on-site exercise area (stocked with fitness equipment or a schedule of exercise classes) makes it easier for employees to squeeze in workouts and take better care of their health. They can save money on gym memberships, save time driving to and from off-site gyms and reap the convenience of a pre- or post-lunch exercise session.

5. Offer Healthy Foods in the Office

Instead of stocking vending machines with sugary treats and other processed foods, try offering colleagues healthy workplace vending machine snacks. Examples include:

  • Pretzels with hummus
  • Popcorn
  • Trail mix
  • Reduced-fat cheeses
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Low-sugar protein bars or shakes

If your facility has an on-site café, consider offering healthy protein shakes, fruit or veggie smoothies, salads, lean meat or poultry, eggs, whole grains, legumes and other heart-friendly menu items that promote healthy weight management.

Getting Started

Maintaining a healthy workforce involves more than just encouraging staff to take care of themselves. Provide your colleagues with the tools needed to become successful and look (and feel) their best. Offer incentives for participating in wellness programs, on-site health screenings, workplace health competitions and on-site fitness classes. Doing so can drastically enhance productivity, and potentially improve your company’s bottom line!

Searching for tools and resources that can help your fellow employees manage their dental benefits? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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