Employee Wellness Programs in the Workplace

The recent New Orleans B2B Forum on Healthcare Solutionsbrought together a varied group of business leaders, community organizations and healthcare experts to focus on ways of promoting better employee health.  The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana sponsored event featured keynote speaker, Adam Beck, discussed the importance of Louisiana employers investing in wellness programs for their employees. One of the breakout sessions feature Dr. Corey Hebert, Chief Medical Editor for NBC and Asst. Professor at Tulane University. 

Productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers upwards of $225.8 billion per year. Unhealthy employees are expensive! Some of the top risk factors are smoking, hypertension, obesity and inactivity. Let’s not forget one of the biggest detriments to good health – STRESS! There are many ways that employees can decrease their job stress.  Better time management skills, learning to be more flexible, relaxing your standards, and staying away from negative people are key.   

What can employers do to help their overstressed employees?  

  • Organize support groups among employees 
  • Sponsor stress management classes during the workday 
  • Offer onsite counseling for employees 
  • Offer an employee assistance program that includes both counseling and referral 
  • Offer onsite yoga or meditation classes 
  • Create a quiet room, where an employee can go to regroup away from daily pressure 

Dr. Hebert stressed the importance of employee wellness programs & how they make for healthier employees. The most popular & effective programs go beyond simply providing health club memberships. Activities to consider include: 

  • Walking Program 
  • Strength Training 
  • Cardio Programs  
  • Recreational Programs  
  • Yoga/Tai Chi  

The most important thing is for employers to provide a supportive environment that encourages employees towards healthy habits. According to Dr. Hebert, the basic step to a successful employee wellness program include the following:  

  • Management Support 
  • Employee Involvement 
  • Assessing Needs Wants 
  • Setting Goals & Objectives 
  • Communicating the Message 
  • Implementing the Program 
  • Continuous Improvement 

Blue Cross Blue Shield took their employee wellness program a step further to include individuals & families in their community. They now sponsor the “Blue Bikes” program which began in New Orleans in 2017. It’s a rental bike program for individuals and their families with the goal of encouraging exercise. Here’s a link to the program:  

As employers and business leaders, it’s important for us to “lead by example.” Good employee wellness plans create healthier employees, and this can increase profitability and productivity. Unhealthy habits begin at home and carry over to the workplace. Employers have a responsibility to encourage their employees, in whatever way they can, to be healthier.