Cut Costs, Not Benefits: Establish a Culture of Health in Your Workplace

Happy, active employees reflecting a Culture of Health

Health care costs continue to rise. Employers could see as much as a 10% increase in healthcare costs, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Companies are feeling the pressure to find ways to reduce these expenses. In fact, 67% of U.S. employers plan to tackle rising health care benefits costs over the next three years, according to a reporting from HR Executive.

Establishing a ‘culture of health’ is one relatively easy way to achieve that cost-containment and prevention.

Arguably, a healthy workplace culture is essential for the success of your organization. It can boost productivity, enhance employee satisfaction, and reduce healthcare costs.

What is a workplace culture of health?

A workplace culture of health is more than a corporate wellness program. It’s an organizational approach that focuses on employee wellbeing and prevention. The goal is to make healthy choices the easy choices for employees to make.

Actively encouraging and supporting employees’ healthy choices—including physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, and other wellness activities—makes it more likely that they will adopt and maintain these healthy behaviors.

Why is a culture of health important?

When employees are healthy, they are less likely to miss work due to illness. This saves companies on medical and pharmacy costs. According to one study, for every dollar saved in direct health care costs, employers save an extra $2.30 in improved performance or productivity.

The benefits to creating a culture of health in the workplace include:

  • Increased employee engagement and productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Improved employee morale and job satisfaction
  • Lower healthcare costs

Six steps to building a culture of health in the workplace

Creating a culture of health at work might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some practical steps you can take to promote employee health and wellness:

1. Provide healthy food options

One of the easiest ways to promote healthy eating habits is by making healthy food the easy choice. Offer fresh fruits and vegetables or healthy snack options in the office. This promotes healthy eating habits by making it easier than grabbing fast food. You can also share healthy recipes or host virtual cooking classes for remote employees.

2. Encourage physical activity

Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health. Provide on-site gym facilities, free or discounted gym memberships, group fitness activities and wellness challenges, or encourage employees to take breaks and go for a walk. Reducing sedentary behavior is key.

3. Offer employee wellness programs, including mental health support

Consider offering wellness programs, like yoga or meditation sessions. These programs can help improve overall wellbeing. Providing employees with access to counseling services and encouraging PTO use can also help reduce stress-related absenteeism. Be sure to communicate these programs to them year-round and via multiple channels to ensure the message reaches them.

4. Promote work-life balance

Encourage flexible work arrangements whenever possible. Hybrid or remote schedules can help employees achieve a better work-life balance. In turn, that can improve their overall health and wellbeing.

5. Create a supportive work environment

A workplace that values and supports employee health and wellness makes it easy for employees to feel comfortable sharing their wellness goals and progress. Encourage your employees to support each other in their wellness efforts. A little encouragement can go a long way in promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices.

6. Lead by example

Leadership plays a critical role in establishing a culture of health. They should set the pace, engaging in healthy behaviors, encouraging others to join in, and promoting a healthy workplace. If company leadership isn’t consistent, it can undermine the effort. Employees will disengage if there isn’t clear and consistent messaging from leaders.

A culture of health is a commitment to doing business differently

The benefits of establishing a culture of health outweigh the costs. Companies that focus on employee wellness can improve productivity, job satisfaction, and overall employee wellbeing.

Establishing a culture of health is directly connected to creating an employee-centric workplace. It’s essential for employee health and for the health of a company’s bottom line.

A culture of health is a win-win.

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