Monday, March 27, 2017

What You Should Know About Wellness Programs for Employees

Employee Wellness programs have grown in popularity, significantly, over the past few years. With the cost of healthcare still skyrocketing, U.S companies can use wellness programs to chip away at their health care costs with the many tax incentives and grants available under the Federal Health Care Legislation. The Affordable Care Act incentivized wellness programs for companies, which is estimated to be worth nearly $6 billion. Now, more than two-thirds of U.S.-based employers offer some type of wellness program. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that, in 2015, 80% of employers offered preventative wellness services and information. The popularity increases with larger workforces. “Some reports suggest up to 92% of employers with over 200 employees offer a wellness program,” according to

This is good, right?

Some may question how effective these programs really are and if they are worth the cost. However, government incentives or not, healthy employees cost you less. While these programs were once viewed as a nice extra, they are now being implemented as a strategically imperative investment designed with your employee’s social, mental, and physical health in mind.

Employee Wellness Programs allow the employer to offer premium discounts, gym memberships, cash rewards and other incentives to participate. For example, popular programs include incentives to stop smoking, weight loss programs, preventive health screenings and diabetes management programs.

The great thing about wellness programs is there are many ways to go about implementing them into your employee’s health care plans. They can be tailored and made relevant to your staff. Many companies choose to offer preventative services like biometric screenings and health fairs. Others focus on specific issues like physical activity or smoking cessations.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “since 1995, the percentage of Johnson & Johnson employees who smoke has dropped by more than two-thirds. The number who have high blood pressure or who are physically inactive also has declined—by more than half.” Johnson & Johnson chose to modify their wellness programs to aid employees with issues they were struggling with.

And it paid off too.

 “J&J’s leaders estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.”

Some people worry that wellness programs only reward people who are already healthy. However, many wellness programs are now addressing things like emotional and mental well-being. Even financial well-being. And, as research continues to support the importance of a holistically healthy lifestyle, wellness programs have expanded to address health on multiple levels.
These programs can also do a lot to increase your company culture. HR reps can work with each employee to learn what they value on their journey to better health. This also means finding wellness activities that your employees want to be a part of. Not only will this improve the communication between HR and employees, but you will be working towards a happier staff, which can lead to a thriving company.
What can you take away from all this?
Your employees are worth the investment. You and your leadership team should be thinking about the importance of employee wellness and implement your discussions into action.

 It will pay off in the end.

Kailey Brennan, VertiSource HR Blogger® 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Women in HR

I often ask HR professionals what they like about their job and the answer is synonymous: “I love helping people.”


It’s what we do.

HR plays such a pivotal and crucial role in organizations throughout the world.

From time to time, I like viewing the labor force statistics related to all kinds of HR positions and what the job outlook is like for the coming years. One interesting statistic that I came across not too long ago showed that 76% of Human Resources Managers are women. Let me repeat that: 76% of Human Resources Managers are women. That’s a really significant number to think about! And the best part: these women throughout the United States are striving to make a positive difference in their organizations.

As we may know from history, however, elevating women to a career of higher responsibility in an HR professional role was not an easy endeavor. However, as we look at a brief history of HR (noting a couple of examples) and how the profession evolved, we can gain a clearer understanding as to why women have become an integral part of the HR labor force and why they have and will become one of the greatest influencers for good.

One example we can look to is the story of Mary Woods. Women weren’t common in the workforce at the beginning of the 20th century and when there was a shortage of workers during World War I era, Mary Woods saw an opportunity.  Ms. Woods was one of the only female workers at her bank.  With the worker shortage, she began recruiting well-educated women to fill bank jobs left empty from men who went off to war.  Starting with only a few replacements, Mary ended up recruiting over 300 female assistants!  After the war was over, however, the bank wasn’t keen on keeping their female workforce and quickly replaced them with men; however, this is one story out of many that contributed toward the beginnings of women participating in HR.

From World War I and II to the Great Depression and through the mid-20th century, women were increasing in numbers, but their treatment and pay was not equal.  Men were given preferential treatment in hiring.  Women were subject to roles that were “lady’s work” like sewing and housekeeping.  In steps Martha Griffiths!  Martha was the first woman to serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the first women to be elected to the United States Congress from Michigan as a member of the Democratic Party.  She was instrumental in including the prohibition of sex discrimination under the Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964! Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or fire any individual or otherwise discriminate in any way based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Because of her efforts, along with many other women during that time, we see far less of this type of discrimination today.

These women are only a few examples of how women have impacted HR across the decades.  

Susan B. Anthony, the driving force behind Women’s Rights Movement said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Susan B. Anthony gives us something powerful to think about. The women of the past helped shape the future for future generations of women desiring these types of responsibilities and roles.

Though this article primarily focused on a couple of examples of women from the past, their impact on HR, and the affect that they had on future generations of women aspiring to such roles, the central point comes down to one question: how can you impact the world around you to foster positive change?  If you can’t think of anything off the top of your head…you can always join HR!  ;-)

By: LeiLani E. Quiray, SPHR
Director of HR for VertiSource HR