Every day you’re confronted by choices. Should you choose the cheeseburger or salad? Work out or watch the latest episode of Shark Week? And with nearly a third of your day spent at work, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge.
Fortunately, employers recognize the impact an employee’s well-being has on productivity and overall job satisfaction. To support a strong workplace culture, many employers provide free employee wellness programs. The programs are designed to make it more convenient and more affordable for you to be a better you — and maybe have some fun with your co-workers while you’re at it.
“Employers are taking a whole-person approach to wellbeing and offering multiple ways for employees to engage in programs that meet employees where they are in their health journey,” said Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president of Global Health & Wellbeing at Unum. “This includes programs designed to maintain good health, help with managing risk factors such as high cholesterol, or manage a health condition such as diabetes.”
A study by UnitedHealthcare discovered 70% of companies provide convenient and affordable wellness programs to their employees. Of that 70% percent, nearly two-thirds of employees said the programs improved their health.
While wellness programs aren’t a new concept, they’re vital because they support an important piece of a company’s operations: you. In fact, U.S. companies spend an average of $742 per employee for wellness programs every year.
Smart employers recognize your wellbeing encompasses much more than nutrition and fitness options. Emotional well-being, financial counseling and mental mindfulness also contribute to your overall wellbeing — in and out of the workplace.
“Life stage and life events also factor into an employee’s need for supportive programs,” Mitchell said. “Early-career employees, new parents, mid- or late-career employees all have different needs, and employers are realizing personalization matters.”
What exactly can a wellness program provide? Options vary depending on the company culture, but here are some examples:
- Free or subsidized fitness centers and classes
- Reimbursements for wellness expenses
- Team fitness challenges
- Walking clubs
- Health resource centers or onsite clinics
- Health screenings
- Diet and nutrition support
- Infused water and fruit stations
- Nutritious food options
- Health education programs
- In-house massage
- Employee assistance programs
Some companies even offer more unusual fare such as ping-pong tables, nap pods or organic employee gardens.
The key is taking advantage of whatever wellness benefits your company offers. No matter how convenient and affordable the options are, they won’t do you any good unless you take part. Whether you choose to attend a quick workshop on healthy grilling or participate in a months-long weight loss challenge, every decision can help create a healthier and happier you. Find what works best and stick with it.