In her latest post, Grokker CEO Lorna Borenstein urged us to make it personal. As Lorna tells us, “By making employees and their families the focal point of your company, you create a community.”
Numerous studies have shown that social support plays a key role in both health and overall happiness. A January study found that people who feel socially connected to family or friends have lower health risks. Researchers found that socially-integrated teens were 48 percent less likely to be obese, and older adults who were socially integrated were 54 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Yet, while an employee’s family connections are a vital part of his/her support system, most wellness programs are not made available to spouses and dependents. By not including families in employee wellness programs, companies miss the opportunity to create engagement and increase the likelihood of employee success.
[Read more: Mindfulness at Work]
Here are three reasons why you should consider extending your wellness initiatives to impact the health of your employee’s families:
1. Including the whole family improves likelihood for healthy change
An Edelman Health Barometer study found that social influence is one of the top motivators of positive health behavior change. This social influence includes feelings of health altruism, where 43% of respondents indicated that they will make a positive change because they realize its impact on the long term health of someone else.
Plus, people find it easier to stay on track to maintain a healthy new habit when they surround themselves with people who are also making healthier choices and stay away from those who aren’t.
2. 70% of employer health costs are driven by covered family members
Many employers are looking for the return-on-investment from their employee wellness programs primarily in lower benefit costs. The Journal of Health Management reports it is the covered family members who drive 70% of healthcare costs and this statistic provides yet another compelling reason for employers to extend access to employee wellness program options to the employee’s family.
While many on-site benefits like fitness centers or health fairs may not be made available to family members, online options like Grokker make wellness easily accessible to both the employee and their family, whenever and wherever it is convenient for them.
3. Stress is contagious
Stress is not just something felt by the employee in a workplace. As many stay-at-home parents can attest, managing the home, kids and, potentially, elderly parents is also very stressful. According to Eastern Kentucky University, companies spend about $300 billion annually for health care and missed work days as a result of stress. Emotional support is an important protective factor for dealing with life’s challenges.
The annual American Psychological Association Stress Survey found the average stress level for those with emotional support was 5.0 out of 10, compared to 6.3 for those without such support. By engaging the family in wellness initiatives, you can increase employee support and reduce the stress and friction of balancing home and work.
In the spirit of making it personal, the Grokker team created an uplifting video for Mother’s Day honoring our own mothers (and featuring CEO Lorna Borenstein). This Mother’s Day, consider the role that your employees’ families can play in helping create a strong and engaged community at your company.