Employee Well-Being More Than Physical Health

Employee Well-Being More Than Physical Health
(Jason Goodman / Unsplash)

Addressing the overall well-being of your employees is no simple task, but it’s essential.

Healthy employees are happier, perform better and are less absent from work. When you’re looking at building a wellness program for your employees, consider these six elements: physical, emotional, financial, career, social and community.

Focusing on all six elements of well-being allows your organization to take a more holistic approach to accommodate your employees’ changing needs. Each of the six elements can make a significant difference financially and culturally in your organization. While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to holistic health, participating in regular exercise—like an ongoing wellness program or fitness challenge—can touch on multiple needs all at once.

Be More Holistic

Here’s the truth. Your organizational culture and employee engagement are determined by more than the salaries and benefits you offer, or the company outings and celebrations you plan. Employees are turning to employers to help address their unique life situations, such as financial solutions to get out from under student loan debt, dealing with emotional issues like a family member or colleague’s addiction and even finding ways to become more involved in the community or other philanthropic opportunities.

Creating holistic well-being opportunities for your employees is vital to improving company culture and increasing productivity and engagement. The numbers speak for themselves—an investment in wellness contributes to lower health-related costs and more agility and resilience among your employees.

Move It or Lose It

The physical aspect of well-being is a critical component to holistic employee health, and regular exercise can help your employees with their physical health.

Regular physical activity is shown to decrease the risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease by 25 percent or more, while also improving primary cardiovascular health risk factors including cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI.1 2 Yet 4 in 5 U.S. adults do not meet recommended physical activity levels, elevating healthcare costs by 11 percent.3 4

Regular exercise improves overall health and research shows that employees who consistently exercise are healthier on average, which translates into a reduction in the impact of health conditions that could lower their overall health.

Regular exercise contributes to so much more than physical well-being alone. Exercise helps to slow growth of behavioral health conditions. A daily walk or 30 minutes in the gym can affect your employees beyond just strength and conditioning. Prevalence of major depression grew 2 percent slower among millennials who regularly exercise. It also reduces chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, which grew 2 to 3 percent slower among people who regularly exercise. This culminates in lower healthcare costs: $4,438 less over four years. 5

Exercise’s Impact on Overall Health

Every organization is unique, with a unique culture. Finding well-being opportunities that prioritize regular exercise over a sustained period can have a measurable and positive impact on physical and mental health. In studies, well-being resulted in significant cost savings and ultimately a healthier workforce for employers.

For many employees, the hardest part is getting started. Give your employees a reason to get started with a program that can spur regular exercise and team building, while promoting whole-person health as a necessary part of your company’s culture.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a not-for-profit mutual insurance company dedicated to improving the health, financial security and peace of mind of the members and communities it serves. Each year it joins the Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Department of Human Services to host the Blue and You Fitness Challenge, a free three-month program to help companies and individuals focus on connecting while building healthy habits and routines.

1 Kyu HH et al. Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. BMJ. 2016.
2 Myers, Jonathan. Exercise and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation. 2003
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult participation in aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities—United States, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013
4 Carlson SA et al. Inadequate physical activity and health care expenditures in the United States. Progress in CardiovascularDisease. 2015
5 The Benefits of Regular Exercise. Health of America, 2020.