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How Welfare Programs Benefit Corporate Life, The Latest Results

How Welfare Programs Benefit Corporate Life, The Latest Results

, by Joris Lans, 8 min reading time

The benefits of welfare programs to exercising at the workplace 

The majority of employers worldwide tries to improve the working conditions of their employees by implementing several strategies. According to HO an estimated number of 70% of employers provide their employees with welfare programs. Studies show that exercising at the workplace, also known as corporate welfare programs, has a positive impact on both employers and employees. In this blog we'll discuss the five most important benefits to the well-being of both employers and employees at the workplace.

1. Cuts in costs

Healthy employees lead to serious financial benefits and may reduce the costs of healthcare employers have to pay for illness amongst their employees.
According to Rucker "the very idea of welfare at the workplace leading to budget cuts at organizations is as old as time itself. For the better part of a hundred years employers have had a keen interest in providing their employees with pre-emptive health-related services."

According to Ho almost 30% of all adults in the United States suffer from obesity. Furthermore 18% of them smokes and 23% doesn't get enough exercise. This leads to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This in turn might lead to rising costs in healthcare. With welfare programs employees learn how to change their unhealthy lifestyle into a a healthy and more productive one.

2. Reduced level of stress

Welfare programs can also aid in reducing the level of stress felt by employees. Research into the health insurance company Aetna, done by The New York Times in 2005, shows that mindfulness training within companies have led to a reduced level of stress by 28%, an improved quality of sleep by 20% and a reduced level of pain and physical symptoms by 19%.

Altizer states that the popularization of Jon Kabat-Zinns 'mindfulness-based reduced level of stress' (MBSR) has been of great influence. A high level of stress may lead to a decrease in productivity, low morals and even sick-leave. Altizer mentions that "the costs high levels of stress entail and the need for productive employees and leadership within companies only increase. The potential contribution of mindfulness to employees and companies is palpable and achievable."

It has been shown that mindfulness not only reduces the level of stress, but also improves mental capacity and focus, reduces emotional reactivity, fosters cognitive functions and enhances self-awareness.

3. Increased productivity

Studies into implementing involuntary welfare programs at a major American media company and educational institution, show that welfare programs have the potential to 'reduce sick-leave' among employees, increase productivity and improves job satisfaction.

Drury notes that a healthy staff leads to less work related illness and improved performances at work. She states that 'companies who encourage a 'culture of well-being', show their employees they care about them and reward them in terms of high moral, great motivation and increased productivity.

4. High moral standards

With welfare programs employers show their employees they have their bests interests at heart. Therefore welfare programs tend to have a positive effect on employees' morale. More and more organizations offer financial contribution to employees who participate in welfare programs.

There's ongoing research into the possibility of making welfare programs mandatory. According to Drury it's difficult to predict "if welfare programs can be made mandatory and if so, whether it'll have the same benefits as before".
Georgakopoulos and Kelly note that "in many employment contracts there's an emphasis on the welfare programs at the workplace, provided by employers.

5. Improved relationships

Georgakopoulos and Kelly are investigating the connection between well-being at the workplace and reduced harassment at work. Their findings show employees regard well-being as 'an essential element of their health and succes at work' and harassment at work as a serious threat to their physical and mental state'.

Welfare programs help employees to reduce their level of stress, fatigue and anxieties and limit and prevent conflict and harassment at work. This strongly improves the relationship between employees and leads to a nicer, healthier and safer workplace.

Why do welfare programs have become so popular?

Nowadays a majority of businesses has implemented strategies to promote well-being at the workplace. It haven't always been that way though. Most investigators agree that despite earlier attempts to improve working conditions for employees, welfare programs weren't invented until the 1970s. In that same period the importace of healthy and safety at the workplace arose.
Key factors which led to the implementation of welfare programs at the workplace were upcoming investigation, showing the high cost of unhealthy working conditions and sick-leave, social and cultural changes leading to a growing awareness in the importance of health and fitness and the formation of groups, such as the Washington Business Group on Health, the Wellness Council of America and the National Wellness Institute. Great and influential in this area were among others Dr. John Travis, autohor of The Wellness Inventory (1975) and the Wellness Workbook (1977) and Don Ardell, who wrote the book High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease back in 1977.

The 21st century saw a continuous growth of the health and wellness industry, in which the majority of employers worldwide has implemented welfare programs and strategies into their offices. Nowadays the Global Wellness Institute values the health and wellness industry as a market at 3.4 trillion, from which wellness at the workplace takes up 41 billion.

How companies can improve their welfare programs nowadays

As companies start using welfare programs more and more often, they're developing advanced methods to improve their employees health. Ho proposes three upcoming methods used by companies:


1. Offering incentives

To encourage employees to participate in welfare programs companies offer them incentives, such as gift cards/vouchers, lowered health insurance premiums, cash bonuses and a discount on healthcare products and services. Ho states that some of the welfare programs allow employees to earn a total of € 1500 per year on incentives just by achieving their daily required walking time. This way employers can safe a lot of money on employee premiums.


2. Collecting biometrical data

Since most people overestimate the amount of exercise they get on a daily basis and underestimate the amount of time they spent sitting, offering employees a biometrical screening can provide a more accurate insight into their health, including important information about their weight, body max index (BMI) and blood sugar. Advanced programs consisting of connected devices, such as wireless scales with a Bluetooth-interface and a sphygmomanometer, which passes on the participants vital signs to case managers or a wellness coach.


3. Appoint a so-called 'champion of wellness'

Some companies believe setting up a so-called wellness committee with their very own 'champion of wellness' respected by it's colleagues, aids in motivating all employees at the office. By using e-mails, flyers and meetings to promote the program, employers show they prioritize welfare at the office and thereby enhance the participation rate to welfare programs amongst their employees.

How employees can improve their own welfare at work

Although companies go to great lengths to improve their employees well-being at work, in the end remaining in good health is a responsibility which lies solely with the employees. Bearing this in mind Ho outlines a few tips and tricks employees can use to improve their own well-being:


1. Set realistic goals

Identify areas of improvement, like your diet or level of training. Set realistic and measurable objectives, for instance a daily required number of steps. Make sure you keep track off your progress and keep reminding yourself about the great job you're doing to stay fit and healthy.


2. Reward yourself

Make sure you reward yourself from time to time for all the hard work you're doing. But keep in mind it's very important not to let this treat get in the way of your set goals. Some ideas for a sensible treat are new training attire or the latest hits to listen to with your smartphone. By rewarding yourself at reaching short term goals you keep yourself motivated to get ahead.


3. Get that much needed support

Getting fit and healthy is an ongoing process and it's not always easy. Working together with peers, family, friends or a professional coach helps you to achieve your set goals in a fun and effective manner. There are employer-sponsored welfare programs that use coaching by phone and hiking groups at work employees can rely upon.


4. Keep your eyes and mouth healthy

Research indicates that good care of the eyes and mouth improve general health. Eye doctors can locate and monitor various diseases, among which are multiple scleroses (MS), tumors, Crohn's disease and sickle cell anemia.


5. Keep it real

One of the most common reasons people fail in their attempts is because they don't keep it real. It can take up as much as 21 days before activity becomes a daily routine and up to six months before this routine becomes a lifestyle. Consult a professional to compile a diet plan and exercise routine that fit your lifestyle.


6. Voluntary work

A recent study showed that 76% of American adults involved in voluntary work feel healthier both physically and emotionally and 78% of them has a reduced level of stress. The study further showed that this voluntary work improves health and professional skills which is beneficial to employers.
In summary it can be said that there's a lot of ways for you to stay fit and healthy. Use them wisely and you'll lead a very prosperous life.


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