Research shows that healthy employees are far likelier to be happy and productive employees. That means that establishing an effective wellness program to improve employee health can offer your organization a significant competitive advantage.
Here are just a few statistics that demonstrate the value that wellness in the workplace can deliver:
- Fewer sick days
According to United Healthcare, 56% of employees reported fewer sick days due to workplace wellness programs
- Greater engagement and morale
Employee morale improves by 54% after wellness programs get implemented
- Reduced healthcare costs
62% of wellness plan participants say that it helped them lower health-related costs.
It’s no wonder that 78% of employers count improving employee health as a vital part of their business plan. But not all workplace wellness programs are created equal. Effective programs focus on impact and results, using multiple approaches to address the most prevalent and costly wellness issues employees face.
Key areas of focus
To ensure a successful wellness program, start by focusing on the issues that affect the greatest number of employees. Extensive data demonstrates that there are two key areas your program needs to address to be an effective means of improving employee health.
Nutrition & exercise
Heart disease remains a leading cause of death in the United States, 1 in 10 Americans live with diabetes, and obesity is an ever-growing epidemic. All of these conditions and more can be improved or even avoided altogether by improving diet and increasing physical activity.
In fact, up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy eating and exercise. This potential to significantly improve health through behavior change represents a huge opportunity for workplace wellness plans.
Studies have also found that healthy eaters are 25% more likely to be high performers at work. And those who exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week are 15% more likely to have high job performance. Exercise also reduces the frequency and severity of MSK issues, our second key focus area, providing yet another incentive to make nutrition and exercise a focus area for your wellness plan.
More than half of American adults report MSK conditions — twice the rate of all heart and lung conditions combined. MSK includes more than 200 conditions involving bones and muscles. Low back pain, chronic joint pain, or arthritis are the most common issues. These issues result in missed work, lack of productivity, and rising healthcare costs. They are also closely linked to mental health issues and opioid use.
Employers spend more on musculoskeletal disorders than any other condition or chronic disease. When you add up the direct cost of care along with indirect costs, like lost workdays and lack of productivity, the price tag for MSK issues leaps to $874 billion each year, more than the entire 2019 United States defense budget.
Approaches to ensure success
Encouraging healthier diets, increased exercise and MSK wellness can help ensure your program’s impact, but the way the program is designed and delivered makes a difference as well. Many well-intended programs don’t get long-term results due to lack of adoption among staff. Designing for engagement, education, and prevention can help increase participation, improve employee health, and reduce costs.
Even the greatest wellness plan in the world will fail if employees don’t participate on an ongoing basis. Participation increases when programs are simple, convenient and fun. Increasingly, that means meeting employees where they are by delivering mobile-first, app-based solutions.
Apps enable you to send helpful push notification reminders and check-ins that keep employees connected to their goals. They also provide simple ways to make wellness fun through gamification, friendly competition, and the ability to track progress and over time.
Keet’s MSK wellness app can help you reach your employees across any location or work schedule. It allows employers to push education, preventive exercises, assessments, and reminders directly to employees in a convenient and engaging format.
Helping employees understand the steps they can take to impact their own health can empower and inspire them to make important changes. Research shows that 40% of a person’s health is determined by their behavior. In comparison, only 10% of health can be attributed to medical care. This underscores the importance of arming your employees with the knowledge they need to take the right steps.
While important, it’s difficult for busy HR professionals to find the right information to share, make information approachable and relevant, and build employee knowledge amid other responsibilities. Wellness apps like Keet can take the manual labor and guesswork out of this process by automating and personalizing education for each member of your workforce.
When it comes to our two greatest-impact focus areas, prevention through simple behavior change can save employees significant pain and suffering. And avoiding problems before they start or addressing issues before they gain severity can help employers reduce healthcare costs, improve workplace morale, and boost productivity as well.
Prevention strategies start with education, continue with ongoing reminders and engagement, and extend to ensuring that employees get the right care at the right time.
For MSK issues, prevention can take many forms, from at-home stretches to ergonomic adjustments to starting the MSK care process with physical therapy. While 50% of spine surgeries are medically unnecessary, there’s volumes of positive data about starting with physical therapy. For example:
- Exercise can reduce the risk of recurring low back pain up to 47%
- Early physical therapy is associated with a reduced risk of opioid use
- Starting with physical therapy rather than an MRI can reduce treatment costs by 72% without compromising clinical outcomes
Keet uses assessment tools to guide prevention, providing a personalized care plan that’s tailored to each individual’s needs. When it’s appropriate to escalate beyond simple, at-home solutions, we connect employees to care through a vetted network of value-based physical therapists who can support early intervention efforts and help employees feel better faster.
A Digital MSK solution for employers
Keet helps self-insured employers improve employee health by reducing the human and financial toll of MSK conditions. Keet educates and engages employees with a focus on prevention and ensures the appropriate level of care through APTA-approved assessments and a physical-therapy first approach.
Learn more about Keet’s digital MSK solution for employers here.