As the economy and employers emerge from recession, those still employed are typically doing their own job plus at least part of another. When the productivity of overworked employees begins to falter, employers find they not only need to hire additional workers, but also attend to the well-being of those they have. Corporate wellness is once again popular.

The wellness of employees is directly linked to the cost of employee services. A small number of employees and families are typically responsible for most of the medical cost. Up to half of health care costs can be reduced by changing behavior. In order to improve the health and productivity of employees, and address these costs, the wellness efforts of employers are expanding.

Historically, employers have offered a “self-serve” menu of wellness options. These may be such things as: a wellness page with links and information, no-cost fitness classes, discounts at local gyms, and monthly wellness newsletters. Leveraging relationships with insurance companies has made available free websites with content like health risk questionnaires, health education and coaching, and a 24/7 nurse line.

Recently, when doing a homework research, I found out employers have been offering rewards to employees who participate in wellness activities like health screenings, health risk questionnaires, and health coaching. These are typically small items, gift cards, and discounts to the insurance premiums paid by employees.

Employers are now investing more in wellness programs, and beginning to divide their efforts into the two following approaches:

Voluntary: Employees choose to participate, and may be rewarded for certain levels of participation. This approach may increase employee morale and some productivity, but usually misses the small number of employees that cost the most.

Mandatory: The entire program or individual components. This approach not only reaches all employees, but yields a better return on investment. Linking individual risks and behaviors to rewards tends to improve them. Healthy employees stay healthy, and those with known – and unknown – risks become healthier. This kind of program will return about three times its cost in three to five years.

This may sound like more added to your already full plate, but a growing number of wellness vendors use technology, social media, and gaming to make wellness easy, fun, and fresh. You may enjoy it more than you think. More energy and cash aren’t bad things either.

Expect to hear more soon from your employer about employee wellness - and perhaps even that of their families.

Author's Bio: 

a graduate of University of North Texas who majored in management, currently is taking an industrial psychology courses and from time to time writes