by Paul O’Reilly-Hyland, CEO and Founder of Zeamo
With the competition for talent at an all-time high, companies are looking for new and creative ways to not only recruit but also to keep great talent engaged and energized at work. While competitive compensation and traditional benefits such as paid time off and flexibility are certainly attractive, organizations are finding they need to step it up and begin offering more lifestyle-focused benefits that help employees achieve better physical and mental health.
In addition to ample vacation time, remote work, flex time, and things such as subsidized childcare and housekeeping services, health and wellness benefits are becoming a top priority for employees when it comes to choosing an employer. Not to mention, offering fitness and wellness benefits can substantially benefit the employer as well, making these programs an extremely worthwhile investment that delivers measurable ROI.
Particularly as younger generations enter the workforce, here’s why including physical wellness in the workplace can be good for employees and the company:
- It’s in high demand. Prospective employees know that more companies are making wellness benefits a part of their overall package, so they’re increasingly expecting it. In fact, over half of millennials and Gen Z employees say wellness programs are important or extremely important in their job decision, making health and fitness benefits a must-have for attracting and retaining talent. And, companies that implement wellness programs often see their turnover rate drop significantly, which means huge savings in recruiting and on-boarding.
- It improves productivity and performance. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between physical activity and work performance, including productivity, motivation and focus. And, physical fitness contributes directly to workers getting more and better quality sleep, which also improves on-the-job performance. Studies have shown that employees who participate in wellness programs at work regained an average of 10.3 hours of productivity a year and saved their company an average of $353 per person per year in lost productivity compared to non-participants.
- It lowers the risk of illness and the impact of stress. It’s no surprise that when employees take better care of themselves through a healthy eating and physical fitness, their overall health improves. Improving diet and exercise can boost immunity, reducing the risk of illness and absenteeism and presenteeism—when employees are present, but not productive because they’re sick or distracted. And, regular exercise helps employees cope with the stress of work and prioritize mental health. In fact, just 30 minutes of daily exercise can lower the risk of depression by over 40%, which can be tremendously beneficial for both the employee and the employer.
- It lowers healthcare costs. By improving both the physical and mental well-being of employees, wellness benefits can also deliver measurable bottom-line savings for the company. According to a recent RAND study, companies could save as much as $6 billion a year in healthcare costs by 2025, just by adding—and incentivizing—employee wellness in the workplace. And, in a macro view, exercise and wellness activities could push global GDP up to .24% higher by 2050. While these might seem like small increments when you consider total healthcare expenditures top $3.5 trillion in the U.S. annually, these “small” increments can have a huge impact on individual companies.
- It improves teamwork. Workers who exercise together, work better together. Whether it involves a team-based activity like a softball league, accountability buddies who makes sure each makes it to the afterwork Tabata class, or a month-long physical fitness challenge, when colleagues work together toward a fitness goal, they encourage one another and hold each other accountable. Not to mention, they can build better relationships by socializing in a setting outside the workplace, all of which builds camaraderie and team bonding.
Offering wellness benefits at work can be a powerful tool in recruiting, retention and optimizing individual and business performance. Investing in your most valuable asset—your employees—is always a smart strategy that pays both immediate and long-term dividends.
Adding rewards for participating in wellness and fitness activities can amplify these benefits, providing an even stronger incentive for workers to take advantage of these opportunities. The higher the participation, the greater the ROI for both the company and its employees.