Even if an employee is surrounded by a culture of wellness at work, food and lifestyle choices outside the office might not be ideal. For example, an employee might make healthy choices at work, but hours of fast food, soft drinks, sweets, and too much TV time at home could be a real problem. But what if that employee’s spouse or significant other were also part of the wellness program?
In a recent study, researchers at The Health Enhancement Research Organization wanted to find out if employee wellness program participation improved when family members were also involved. They analyzed data from more than 700 large employers, and looked at differences between wellness programs that include spouses and those that don’t. They found that when employees and their spouses participated in an employer-sponsored wellness program together, the combined effort helped reduce healthcare costs and improve employee health.
Researchers also found that employers that allow spouses to participate in lifestyle coaching programs had employee participation rates twice as high as employers that don’t include spouses. And when spouses were allowed to complete a health risk assessment, track physical activity minutes, and other wellness activities, employers were also more likely to report improvement in health risks and medical costs.
It makes sense. If there’s a culture of wellness at work, and at home, employees are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices more often. If you want to improve participation rates, consider allowing spouses and/or significant others to be part of your program.