Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union.

Employee wellness has been making the rounds as an HR buzzword. But what does employee wellness mean, and why is it important to your organization?

Employee wellness involves much more than simply providing your employees with health benefits (though that’s certainly part of it).

Employee wellness means investing in your company’s most valuable asset, your employees, by providing resources to ensure that each employee has the ability to live their best life both on and off the clock. This involves providing tools to support your employee’s physical, mental, and financial well-being. Investing in employee wellness pays off in happier, more productive employees.

The Obvious: Increased Productivity

Employees who are in good health perform 25% better than their less healthy peers. Considering that businesses lose trillions of dollars per year in lost productivity, that boost can make a huge difference in a company’s bottom line. Research shows that eating unhealthy foods and failing to exercise can cut individual productivity by 50% or more.

Focusing on prevention by promoting preventative healthcare drastically decreases the number of sick days employees take as well.

Larger companies may benefit from installing a fitness center right on campus. But smaller employers who lack that space can still invest in employee wellness. When selecting a company benefit plan, they can select plans that include gym memberships as part of the benefits package. Another alternative is bringing in outside fitness professionals to offer lunchtime fitness classes.

You may even discover that you have some fitness experts on staff whom you can reach out to in regards to providing lunchtime or after work fitness activities.


Build Team Loyalty

Investing in employee wellness also builds loyalty among employees. While employee wellness programs may start at the top, it is critical that management throughout the organization supports wellness initiatives.

Numerous studies have shown that employees who feel supported by management are both healthier and less likely to leave their employer.

Managers should take care to set healthy examples with their own behavior. In addition to urging their staff to use their paid time off or utilize the company fitness room, employees should see their managers taking part in these activities as well.

Employees follow the example of management when it comes to prioritizing tasks, and managers who encourage wellness in both word and deed reap the rewards of healthier team members. employees also worry about how they are perceived, and incentives for wellness go a long way. If it is in your budget, consider solutions such as offering 30 minutes of paid time to exercise for all employees.


Financial Health Matters

While many corporate fitness programs focus on physical health, stress over financial matters also injures employee productivity. Obviously, employers should offer wages commiserate with their employees’ abilities and experience. However, simply having a big enough paycheck isn’t enough to ward off financial insecurity.

Employers do well when they partner with financial experts to host seminars educating employees about proper money management. Such seminars can educate employees on anything from saving for retirement to proper credit management.

By offering tools that assist employees in money management strategies, employers recapture the productivity lost due to too many sleepless nights spent wondering how to pay one’s bills.

Financial literacy includes how to prioritize tasks and manage stress on the clock as well. As many companies already participate in monthly or quarterly team meetings, part of this meeting time can focus on techniques for managing stress, whether it be taking a walk to clear one’s head before an important call to practicing deep breathing when dealing with difficult customers.


Bringing it Together

A quality employee wellness program should encompass aspects of physical, mental, and financial well-being. By offering both resources and education, employers help employees to become their best selves both in and out of the workplace.

Businesses can utilize outreach efforts to partner with local facilities and experts to teach anything from yoga to cognitive-behavioral techniques for stress management to purchasing one’s first home. The key is focusing on what is meaningful and important to one’s workforce.

It’s important to keep in mind that employee wellness programs should overall be simple and fun.

As one of the primary focuses of employee wellness programs is reducing stress, these activities shouldn’t add additional responsibilities to the employee’s day. Wellness classes and seminars are best held during times when employees are already on the clock to maximize participation.

The benefits of a healthy, happy, less stressed workforce cannot be overstated. When employees feel appreciated, they are happy to go the extra mile to ensure team success.

While employee wellness programs may involve an initial investment upfront, the money saved from fewer sick days and higher employee retention can pay off in higher profits for years to come.

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