An effective business owner understands the importance of providing more to their employees than just a salary and necessary benefits. Employee attitudes, whether positive or negatives, can directly affect work ethic, work environments, and overall efficiency. Happy and healthy employees who feel supported by their employer are more likely to have a positive outlook, go the extra mile in their work, and become voluntary ambassadors of the business. Employees who feel disconnected from their employer are more likely to do and feel the exact opposite.

One of the ways many businesses choose to show that support for their employees is through the implementation of a wellness program.

These programs are never one-size-fits-all—this is why we wanted to ask Chriss Spires, the Partner & Benefits Advisor at Montoya & Associates, a leader in workplace wellness, to share some of his insight on the topic.

 

FLCB: What is a wellness program? Why should companies care about workplace wellness?

M&A: A “wellness” program is not a static offering but more fluid with multiple components that can be developed over time. True worksite wellness is more about connectivity with employees and a workplace vibe if you will—energy, enthusiasm and a great place to work are all tangible benefits of active wellness programs. Worksite wellness has become more popular over the past several years as companies look for ways to differentiate from other employers. In order to attract and retain key talent, having a well-organized wellness program is another added value that can help companies remain competitive.

FLCB: What does a company wellness program look like?

M&A: It first must start with leadership, if the executive team is not on board a wellness program is likely to not gain meaningful traction and is destined to fail. With top-down support in place, we recommend establishing a “wellness” committee comprised of a variety of employees, different departments or areas of the company. Develop a budget, a cost per employee that the company is willing to invest, yes this should be seen as an investment since the impact on the employee will create positive results for the organization. A calendar of events and activities can be created to keep all employees aware of what’s occurring throughout the month. The following are just a list of some of the items we have seen used in an effective Wellbeing & Wellness Program:

  • Monthly / Quarterly Lunch n Learns- topics can range from financial wellness to healthy cooking and nutrition.
  • Healthy vending options- many resources available for this, we like Smart Box.
  • Revise company catering policy- only healthy food from vendors (no pizza).
  • Bio-Metric screenings- on-site or at local labs.
  • On-site Health Fair- invite local wellness-related companies to share products and services with employees, include health insurance carrier.
  • Tobacco Free work policy- might be a tough one but important.
  • Gym memberships- We DO NOT recommend the typical reimbursement approach as they generally are not able to be tracked. We prefer an accountability program and like Peerfit for this. Peerfit provides a digital health offering which is a great solution for organizations with multi-state, multi-location needs.
  • Structured Activity Challenges- Biggest Loser Contest, Walking/Step contests
  • Employer-sponsored registrations for events- Local runs & other events that employees can participate in.

FLCB: What is the purpose of implementing a wellness program?

M&A: Company culture is a driver today with employees and an intentional health & wellbeing program can support many aspects of a company’s objectives. Certainly creating a healthy work environment and fostering an active lifestyle appeals to many individuals and can often mean the difference between making a quality environment and not. All things being equal, including compensation, offering a well-designed and functioning program can have a dramatic impact on recruiting and employee retention.

FLCB: What are some of the benefits associated with a company wellness program?

M&A: We see impacts in many areas for a company from employee presentism and new hire recruiting to an enhanced vitality of employees. Some would report that health costs and insurance premiums can be reduced and while that may be true in larger organizations it is more of the intangible benefits that we see smaller business seeing an impact.

FLCB: What does a program like this cost a business owner?

M&A: The investment (we like that word over cost) can vary depending on the scope and programs to be included. It is important to note that many of the elements in an integrated wellbeing & wellness program can be a low investment or free/complimentary. Many solutions exist today that allow companies to begin small and gradually move to more robust programs that include on-site health coaching and biometric screening. A budget is again important to understand so a program can be tailored to meet the financial expectations of the organization’s leadership. Investment in a program can range from $5.00 per employee per month ($60 annually) to more sophisticated offerings including on-site health screenings, fitness offerings, education, cooking classes etc. which would be in the range of $50-$100 per employee per month ($600-$1,200 annually).

FLCB: At what size should a company consider implementing a wellness program?

M&A: Wellness programs come in all sizes so the truth is a company with 5 employees can implement meaningful, low-cost strategies. Tobacco-free campus/office, healthy vending, weekly/monthly/quarterly activity challenges are just a few examples of the low-cost options that smaller companies with limited or no budgets can adopt for wellness.

FLCB: What are some of the differences you’ve seen between companies with and without a wellness program?

M&A: First, any type of wellness offering should be considered as a benefit component to enhance employee well-being and foster an environment of a common mission to become healthy and better engaged. We generally see organizations that have some type of wellness program to also enjoy a good corporate culture. Companies with a wellness initiative tend to have employees that are more engaged at work, appear to be better co-workers and collaborate more freely. It is important to understand that “wellness” encompasses several facets with the most common and popular being health-oriented offerings. Financial, Spiritual, Social, Environmental and Vocational are other areas that should be considered when developing a comprehensive program.


Montoya & Associates is a leader in workplace wellness and has recently been recognized by the First Coast Worksite Wellness Council for the 3rd year in a row receiving a “Gold” Award for their company program. For more information about Worksite Wellness & Wellbeing programs please contact an advisor at Montoya & Associates- 904-280-2028  www.montoyaassociates.com