Absenteeism and lost productivity due to mental health issues cost the Canadian economy almost $50 billion annually.
Corporate wellness programs promote healthy behaviours that can reduce medical costs and improve employee productivity. The most effective programs take a holistic approach to wellness and their programs focus on a broad range of health and well-being influencers, including physical, mental, social, emotional, and financial aspects, to name a few.
Why is workplace wellness important?
When employees have the resources and support to take care of their health issues, they’re more likely to show up to work and perform at their peak ability.
Physically active employees are less likely to incur high health care costs, for example. Plus, they’re less likely to miss work. On average, Canadian workers in the public sector miss 13.5 days a year due to illness and private sector workers average 8.3 days.
Corporate wellness programs encourage sustainable behavioural changes that can reduce employee absenteeism. For instance, programs that encourage exercise can increase employee health and well-being while lowering their use of health care dollars.
Employee financial wellness is an often-overlooked aspect of total wellness. However, anyone who has experienced stress related to financial issues knows that it can take a toll on physical and mental wellness.
What can employees learn in a corporate financial wellness program?
In 2018, Canadian households owed over $2 trillion, with the average Canadian owing about $1.70 for every dollar of income he or she earns, after taxes.
The burden of debt can weigh heavily on individuals, causing mental and physical stress. In fact, a 2019 poll found that 43% of Canadians say their financial stress negatively affects their ability to perform at work. The annual cost of this lost productivity is an estimated $16 billion.
An effective financial wellness program focuses on three themes:
- Financial health: Helps employees understand their ability to meet ongoing financial obligations, including retirement planning.
- Financial well-being: Helps employees think critically about their attitude toward their financial situation.
- Financial literacy: Helps employees to take the needed steps to become confident in their financial decision-making.
Combined with attention to physical and mental health, these financial themes complete the holistic view of employee wellness.
How does a wellness program create change?
An organization can only function as well as its employees can perform. When a large portion of workers feel unwell, stressed out, and depressed, it negatively affects the company’s ability to fulfill its mission.
Comprehensive corporate wellness programs provide supports for employees so they can address their physical and mental health issues, as well as financial and other health challenges. Through third-party resources, education, and broad-spectrum wellness programs, employees learn the root causes of their issues so they can make progress more easily.
Wellness programs may include on-site resources designed to reduce stress and improve health. Some ideas for employee perks include:
- Nap rooms
- Yoga classes
- Health food options
- Fitness benefits
- Smoking cessation assistance
The physical environment of a workplace has a direct impact on employee health and wellness. For example, the type of lighting, quality of air flow, temperature, facility design, colours, access to nature, etc., all contribute to the well-being of employees. A comprehensive approach to wellness planning seeks to reduce or eliminate stressors that negatively impact employee performance.
Likewise, the prevailing culture of an organization influences the way workers think about personal wellness. For instance, toxic cultures can make people feel weak and inferior for dealing with mental health issues. A positive culture that is supportive, respectful and caring, however, reduces that stigma and creates a path toward beneficial behaviours.
Every organization has unique wellness challenges and opportunities, which is why wellness programs are most effective when they are tailored to the needs of the employees in each company.
Get your free copy of our Healthy Workplace Standard to learn more about promoting mental, physical, and financial wellness in the workplace.