News for HR Professionals


Well, Well, Well: Developing Wellness Programs That Work

In some organizations, morale and loyalty are higher, attracting and retaining quality talent is easier, and the company enjoys a more favorable image than its competitors. What’s the force behind all these positive trends? Often, it’s a world-class employee wellness program.

In a 2014 SHRM survey, 76 percent of respondents indicated that their organizations offered some type of wellness program, resource or service to employees. If yours isn't among them–or if you're looking to add to your offering–now is a great time to start.

A Popular Choice: Traditional Wellness Programs

Reasons to be concerned about employees' health are legion. Among other issues, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 59 percent of employees don't get adequate exercise, 50 percent or more have high cholesterol, and 26 percent are overweight by 20 percent or more. And the consequences are real: experts estimate that 70-90 percent of healthcare spending is caused by these preventable and modifiable risks.

Do traditional wellness programs help? According to the Willis Health and Productivity Survey Report 2015, 58 percent of employers agree that their programs are effective in reducing health risks, and 51 percent agree that their programs are effective at reducing medical costs. To have the greatest impact, a wellness program should start in the workplace, but also encourage employees to engage in healthy activities in their personal lives. Playing outdoors with children or taking pets for a walk promotes wellness for the whole family, including its four legged members. Just keep in mind one caveat from Deloitte: To increase engagement, it's important for the program not to feel forced, intrusive or overly demanding.

Hot for 2017: Financial Wellness Programs

It's common knowledge that stress has a huge impact on both physical and mental health, and financial worries are among the biggest stressors most people face. Considering that 60 percent of employees report being "somewhat" or "very" stressed about their financial situation, up from 50 percent in 2013, it's a safe bet that many of your company's employees are struggling with this issue. In one study, 46 percent of respondents reported that they spent three or more hours a week either dealing with or thinking about their finances while at work, and 17 percent said concerns about finances affected their productivity—hardly music to an employer's ears.

In response, many companies (up to 40 percent, according to a survey by Alliant Credit Union) are now offering "financial wellness" programs to help employees gain control of their day-to-day finances and develop long-term plans, such as amassing an emergency fund, which respondents in the Alliant survey named as their top financial goal. Having sufficient funds set aside can reduce stress and provide peace of mind in all sorts of scenarios, from repairing a leaky roof to covering the insurance deductible on a beloved pet's emergency vet bill.

Something Extra: Other Wellness Options

Along with traditional and financial wellness programs, many employers provide other options, either as add-ons or as standalone offerings. These may include support for specific health goals, such as smoking cessation; on-site yoga or stress management classes to promote relaxation; and environmentally friendly transportation programs, such as ride-sharing, bike-sharing or public transit. Consider surveying employees to find out what's most valuable to them so you can allocate your resources accordingly.

Let's Get Started

Ready to plan or enhance your wellness program for 2017? Look to Nationwide® for support. We offer programs with valuable incentives that can help your employees and their pets become–and stay–physically and financially fit. To learn more about Nationwide's 2017 health and wellness or financial programs, contact your Nationwide representative.