Workers believe organizations hold some responsibility for employee wellness
Monday, 08 August 2011 16:00In a survey of nearly 3,000 individuals, researchers at the UK's Department for Work and Pensions found that about 80 percent of respondents believe that companies should make efforts to assist workers with long-term health problems.
Work and wellness are thought to be inextricably linked, since an ill or overly stressed employee cannot typically perform well, and job-induced anxiety has the potential to lead to sickness. As a result, the organization conducted the survey to provide further insight into the relationship between work and well-being.
A total of 80 percent of respondents said they think that work and employment are beneficial to an individual's physical and mental well-being.
While a link between employment and health is evident, money may not always be a factor. For instance, the top three reasons cited by workers on why they would go to work when ill had nothing to do with their finances. Being busy, not sick enough or thoughts that an illness would fade once in the office were the main three reasons reported by employees.
Results of the survey suggest that employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for healthy living and stress management may be effective in motivating a staff as well as reducing costs that stem from employee health benefits.
Multinational companies plan increased attention to employee wellness
Monday, 08 August 2011 16:00Multinational corporations are increasingly concerned with employee wellness, according to the recently released results of a survey by Towers Watson. Nearly a third of companies surveyed have a workforce health strategy in place, up from just under a quarter in last year's survey, and almost half intend to have one within 2 years. Of the companies with a strategy in place or being planned, only 13 percent had informed their global workforce about it.
The survey revealed that 87 percent of companies expect employee wellness to be a higher priority from 2013 to 2015, and 75 percent expected it to be a higher priority before then. Companies headquartered in Asia indicated that their programs were meant to attract and keep top workers, while European companies were more concerned with minimizing absenteeism and improving health and safety.
American companies, on the other hand, emphasized cost containment. The survey primarily collected data from companies with 5,000 or more employees, with 49 percent of the total businesses employing over 10,000 workers.
Of the businesses surveyed, more than half are intending to cut costs for American operations by focusing on preventive measures and programs. Employee wellness programs may allow these companies to lower total costs by spending less on health care to treat illness.
Metlife study reveals decline in employee loyalty to small businesses
Monday, 01 August 2011 16:00A recent study by Metlife investigated employee loyalty in businesses with under 500 employees. Comparing the 2007 and 2010 business years, the percentage of organizations offering employee health benefits like medical, dental and disability coverage was almost the same. In fact, the percentages were the same for prescription drug and disability benefits, and dropped less than 3 percent for medical and dental coverage.
Despite this, overall employee loyalty seems to have dropped. While 72 percent of employees satisfied with their benefits reported feeling loyal to their employer, only 44 percent of total employees surveyed said they felt strong loyalty. In 2008, the percentage of the total was 62, almost 20 percent higher.
Many employees from the baby-boomer generation have significant financial concerns, with only 16 percent feeling that they are on the path to a financially stable retirement. Many are worried about outliving their savings, while others expect to work part- or full-time instead of retiring completely.
Employers may be able to increase employee loyalty and productivity by helping alleviate stress that these employees feel due to financial concerns about their future. Many employees reported interest in education that could help their financial and retirement planning. Supports like financial assistance and employee wellness programs may reduce stress, increase loyalty and aid employee retention.
Companies increasingly incentivize employee wellness
Monday, 01 August 2011 16:00Lockton Benefit Group, a company providing insurance, risk management and employee benefit services, recently surveyed its clients to ask their opinions on the new health reform law. The results revealed that about 80 percent of respondents had strong concerns about the impact of new mandates.
Mainly, organizations are worried that new requirements will place costly burdens on companies because of added administrative tasks, with many expecting a significant increase.
However, one positive point that they observed is the increase in incentives for employee wellness that companies will be allowed to provide.
"We expect to see further guidance under health reform that could allow employers to raise the incentive to 50 percent in special circumstances," said Edward Fensholt, who directs Lockton's compliance services division.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that nearly half of the United States' large companies maintain some sort of stress management training program to help employees understand and minimize the negative effects of workplace stress. According to Dr. Chuang, employee wellness programs can increase productivity and reduce employer health insurance costs.
Businesses aiming to better engage employees
Sunday, 31 July 2011 16:00A recent examination on worker involvement and attitudes by Workforce Management cites a report by LeadershipIQ indicating that 69 percent of North American workers are underengaged or disengaged at work.
The survey had 102,311 respondents, including both employees and managers. Over half of the responding supervisors reported being underengaged, lacking enthusiasm and motivation. About one third of middle management and executive personnel felt similarly.
Underengaged or disengaged employees may be more likely to look for other job opportunities or underperform. A lack of productivity among these employees might mean increased workloads for those workers who are already engaged, leading to workplace stress.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, emotional and physical types of stress can overlap, with each potentially causing the other. Physical pain can cause emotional stress, while emotional stress can lead to physical symptoms.
Some companies are taking measures to better understand their employees' opinions and needs, seeking suggestions from workers for ways to streamline work methods and processes, or otherwise trying to engage their personnel.
Others are pursuing employee wellness programs to help employees stay healthy and energized by encouraging them to exercise and maintain their physical fitness.
Wellness programs aren't all about physical fitness. HeartMath's emWave2 may help minimize workplace stress by allowing employees to align their breathing with heart rhythms. This may reduce the negative effects of stress and build energy, and possibly improve an individual's quality of sleep.
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