Should every scale-up have an employee wellness program?
Performance & Productivity
February 12, 2020
May 19, 2020
Kale salads, lunchtime yoga, onsite massages. Big companies have long embraced corporate wellness for the health and well-being of their employees. Some thoughts on pampering your team.
Every company wants happy, healthy, and productive employees. Long gone are the days when employees only received their monthly paycheck, vacation time, and dental. Major tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have fully established wellness programs: initiatives, activities, or policies that aim to encourage their workers to live healthier and happier lifestyles. You name it: from gym subscriptions to guitar lessons and from smoking cessation courses to health risk assessments.
The quirky ways Google tries to keep their employees active have become somewhat legendary, with their office slides that lead from upper to lower floors. While this may just seem like nothing more than a sly joke, there's a clear purpose behind it. Inspiring employees to play around a little bit at the office is good for them – and for business. If your people thrive, so does your company.
There’s some discussion on the benefits that wellness programs yield. As Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, points out in The New York Times: “Wellness is this multibillion-dollar industry where there has been a really weak evidence base of what these programs do.”
A 2018 study on corporate wellness programs found no causal effects of treatment on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status in the first year. In fact, according to The Harvard Business Review workspace wellness offerings typically resonate most with already healthy employees, potentially alienating those that are dealing with health issues – mentally or physically.
Wellness programs for startups and scale-ups
Regardless of their controversy, the fact remains that wellness programs are a way of showing your employees you care about them. Offering some sort of wellness program is regarded as a part of your company culture and has become a way of attracting new hires. And while Google, Apple and Facebook may suggest otherwise, you can come a long way without vegan chefs or yoga instructors on your payroll.
Collage HR offers some great low-cost tips and ideas for establishing wellness programs at scale-ups. A 3 PM stretch, creating a list with healthy lunch spots around the corner, starting a ‘salad club’: it could be a start and it doesn’t cost a penny. Splurging on an in-office masseuse for a day will be all the more appreciated by your employees.
On a final note: an important part of establishing a wellness program for your company is to keep it as inclusive aspossible. Not everyone gets excited by the idea of a yoga class and some people hate the taste of kale. There should be something in your program everyone can benefit from.