Are wellness programs soon to be rebranded as well-being programs? That does seem to be where survey results indicate such programs are headed. And what better time to rebrand wellness programs than during the 7th Annual Employee Well-being Month, as proclaimed by Virgin Pulse.
Virgin Pulse is just one of many consulting firms painstakingly tracking the evolution of the programs once known as employee assistance programs. The reinvigorated wellness program has caught the imagination, and checkbook, of corporate America, with its promises of a healthier workforce and lower employee health-related spending.
Engagement in wellness plans is crucial to their efficacy. Studies have shown that managers and workers who are engaged in their jobs are far more productive than those who are not.
Increasingly, surveys are showing that many wellness programs fail to truly engage employees. Hence, they don’t deliver on the promises.
But other research indicates that fine-tuning such programs can lead to greater and engagement and better outcomes. Part of that fine-tuning involves putting more emphasis on the overall well-being of employees by including features that reduce their stress.
In Virgin Pulse’s latest survey that focuses on employee engagement in wellness programs, the results showed that employers are paying attention.
A key factor was shifting the perspective of the program features from wellness to well-being. Among the findings:
Wellness programs are shifting to focus on a more holistic definition of well-being. More than 78 percent of employers say they’re expanding their well-being programs into areas like financial wellness and mental health.
Stress is a top participation driver. More than 80 percent of employees say they participate in workplace well-being programs to reduce their stress levels.
Workplace well-being programs positively impact company culture. More than 80 percent of employees feel positive about their work culture thanks to well-being programs.
Employers are shifting how they position wellness incentives to be more positive than negative. More employers (72 percent) are positioning their well-being programs as rewards instead of punishments.
Employers are looking to broaden communications channels, types, and frequency. Many organizations will increase the frequency of their communications (41.7 percent), new communications channels (35.3 percent) and test out new communications types and styles (32.5 percent) in an effort to increase employee participation in employee well-being programs.
“There’s a much needed shift taking place in the industry,” said Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce. “Gone are the days of focusing on physical health alone. Today, workplace wellness programs are broadening their scope and focusing on the whole person, which helps to replenish what modern life depletes. By taking care of employees’ overall well-being, employers are creating great places to work filled with healthier, more productive employees. As a result, people have more physical energy, mental focus, and emotional drive to do what matters most and they love coming to work because they feel like their employers really care about them.”