Why companies across the globe are adopting corporate wellness programs


Why companies across the globe are adopting corporate wellness programs

In the United States, employee health is big business, and it is growing in Europe, too. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that nearly 50 percent of Americans receive health insurance through an employer. Yet, providing this coverage doesn’t come cheap. According to a recent report, employee health care costs account for a significant 7.6 percent of a company’s total operating budget.

So, it’s unsurprising that US employers look for any way possible to reduce that cost. One of the most effective ways to lower employee health spend? Corporate wellness programs. Clinically-validated wellness programs, including Nokia Corporate Wellness, typically offer a 3 to 1 ROI on total medical savings for these organizations. The math behind the savings is simple: The healthier a company’s employees, the less the company needs to spend on medical bills.

And yet even for companies outside of the US employer-based insurance market, corporate wellness makes good financial sense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost $1,685 per employee per year. Corporate wellness programs address this overarching problem with tools designed to combat the root causes of poor employee health such as stress, activity, nutrition and sleep. Here’s why effective wellness programs typically target those four areas:

  • Stress reduction: Stress is more than mere worry. While stress impacts the micro decisions people make, like whether to choose a healthy dinner or indulge in fast food, it also contributes to long-term health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. The good news is that companies can help reduce employee stress significantly. The best corporate wellness programs explicitly teach employees stress-busting techniques like mindfulness and meditation. It also helps that the other elements of wellness programs, including improving activity, nutrition and sleep, work to combat employee stress.
  • Activity: The changing nature of work has led more and more employees to become sedentary. While multiple studies have documented the correlation between lack of activity and severe health consequences, other medical literature has shown that getting up and moving around, even for just 30 minutes a day, works to minimize these effects. That’s where corporate wellness programs come in. Employees use activity trackers to count steps, compete in team challenges, and receive personalized encouragement. These tools are fun and engaging for employees but also function as a thoughtfully designed combination of game theory and intrinsic motivational tools. And it works. For example, Nokia user data demonstrates that employees who check their activity take 2,300 more steps per day than employees who don’t.
  • Nutrition: Diet is one of the most impactful variables of overall health. Yet many corporations don’t actively encourage healthy eating habits among their employees. Beyond the availability of healthy food options in the workplace, wellness programs can use digital nutrition coaching and food journaling to encourage accountability and improve overall dietary choices.
  • Sleep: While sleep doesn’t (usually) happen at work, corporations have a vested interest in making sure their employees get enough sleep each night. A recent study estimated that sleep deprivation costs employers almost 8 days of work per year, per worker, due to lost productivity. Wellness programs that include sleep monitoring and coaching programs around social jet lag help employees better prioritize sleep and come to the office ready to work.

More than two-thirds of US employers already offer corporate wellness programs. And as promising results continue to stream in, European and Asian corporations are likely to follow. After all, no matter the country, healthy employees contribute to a healthy bottom line.

Reda Attahri from Nokia Technologies will be speaking at Upgraded Life Festival 25-26th of April about Nokia´s approach to Corporate Wellness programs and how make them work.

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