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Employee Wellness Programs

Most of us could use a little boost to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, but what if the person behind that boost was your employer? Many companies are adopting employee wellness programs in an effort to promote good health in their employees, and the payoff is mutually beneficial.

According to a recent survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, 86 percent of employers now offer some form of health incentive to employees, usually in the form of prizes or financial rewards. The average perk per employee is $521, double the amount from 2009.

Wellness programs vary from company to company, but some common benefits include discounts on gym memberships, tobacco cessation programs and wellness coaches to help you reach and maintain your health goals. Employees may also qualify for lower insurance premiums or employer contributions to a health savings account (HSA) after completing wellness evaluations or biometric screenings.

While it’s obvious that employee wellness programs benefit the employee, they are also beneficial for employers. Healthier employees in the workplace tend to be more productive, miss fewer work days and lower the overall cost of health care. Data from health evaluations and biometric screenings also clues employers in on the specific health needs of their employees.

A community case study published in the 2009 issue of “Prevention of Chronic Disease” demonstrated the benefits that can result from employee wellness programs. Transportation employees in Austin, Texas, were given the opportunity to participate in a wellness program provided by an outside company. Employees had access to a 24-hour onsite fitness complex, dietary counseling, health assessments, personal trainers and workshops. Those who participated in the program reported weight loss, lower blood pressure, increased physical activity and a healthier diet (Source: Livestrong).

Employee wellness programs are an effective way to encourage healthy habits and satisfaction in the workplace. Ask your employer about what health incentives are available to you, and take full advantage of them. It’s a great way to improve your health, cut down on costs and fatten your wallet.