How to Develop and Implement Healthy Employee Programs
Do you employ a healthy workforce? If you’re not sure, your bottom line can provide some insight. The CDC reports that productivity lost to absenteeism (more common in unhealthy employees) costs American businesses over $225 billion a year.
As an employer, there are steps you can take to reward employees who make their health a priority. At the same time, there are legal lines to be aware of when encouraging employees to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle.
Here are some ideas for developing and implementing healthy employee programs without overstepping.
How to Begin Using Healthy Employee Programs
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when developing healthy employee programs. Here are some ways to start, develop, and grow a program that fits your unique workplace.
Third party apps
Did you know that over a quarter of surveyed employees said they’re more likely to stay with an employer that offers digital health tools? Consider using a third-party app to help employees set goals, track progress, and earn rewards for taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
Third party apps track employee progress, whether it’s weight loss, averted unhealthy cravings, or daily steps, and reward them with incentives of your choice. Rewards could be monetary (usually in the form of gift cards) or work-related (an extra paid day off).
There’s minimal effort needed to implement a program through a third-party app and progress can be seen almost immediately with the right program and incentives. Here is a list of programs to help you find an app that matches your company.
If you would rather develop your own healthy employee programs, it’s best to start small. Focus on prevention of poor health by showing employees how to take preventative measures.
For example, host a health seminar that provides employees with expert advice and opens the floor for suggestions on how to make the office a healthier environment. Hire a trainer to come in and demonstrate effective workout routines that can be completed during work breaks or at home without taking up too much free time. Or invite a nutritionist to host a healthy lunch n’ learn event to discuss healthy eating habits.
It’s better to start small and grow a program than overwhelm employees with too many changes.
Take a stand on unhealthy habits
Tired of employees sneaking outside for a cigarette break? As their employer, you have the right to establish a smoke-free workplace. And when it comes to after-hours holiday and office parties, there’s no requirement to serve alcoholic beverages.
Data shows that nearly 20 million Americans battled a substance abuse issue in 2017. You may have employees in the midst of their own battle and eliminating temptation at work can be instrumental in helping them overcome their addiction.
If your company works with an EAP, make sure employees know there is always someone available to help them find professional help for any type of substance abuse struggle.
Know Your Legal Limits on Healthy Employee Programs
It’s one thing to want your employees to embark on a healthier lifestyle. It’s another to overstep your boundaries as their employer. Here are a few guidelines to help.
- HIPPA does not allow you to charge an employee a higher premium because they smoke, drink, are disabled, or have been recently diagnosed with an illness or condition.
- You can “reward” employees for making certain health choices. For example, you can cut premiums of non-smoking employees, as long as it’s less than a 20 percent discount. A wellness program must also be established for the entire company if you want to offer this incentive.
- A qualified wellness program allows employees to earn a reward at least once per year. Employees struggling to meet a wellness program’s requirements due to bad habits, like smoking, must be given an alternative route to earning a reward, like taking an educational class.
A Healthy Team Is a Successful Team
Subtle suggestions and enticing incentives can help employees evolve into healthier and happier team members.
As long as you stay on the right side of the law and provide a supportive environment, implementing healthy employee programs can be a rewarding practice for employers and employees alike.