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Credit unions are benefited by offering wellness programs

Encouraging healthy habits helps create a more positive, productive work environment.

Credit Union Times reported that many credit unions are incorporating wellness programs into their company culture. The credit unions that have done this already have seen positive results, such as more productive employees and fewer health claims 

According to a Gallup study, wellness programs can greatly benefit companies and their employees. However, this is only true if the program is done correctly.

Five areas of health
The study found that there are five areas of wellness that are important to overall happiness: social, financial, community, purpose and physical. It also explained that these affect each other. For instance, if someone suffers in financial wellness, they may not feel happy in other aspects of their life either.

Healthy employees are happy with their employers.Employees who are healthy in all five wellness categories are 81 percent less likely to seek employment elsewhere.

When employees are healthy in all five aspects, they are 81 percent less likely to look for another employer and take 41 percent fewer sick days.

Helping employees become healthy
Credit unions across the country are taking notice of this trend. According to a press release, Allegacy Federal Credit Union in North Carolina has seen dramatic improvements since implementing its wellness program in 2009 and now seeks to help other organizations with it.

Participation in Allegacy's program is typically around 95 percent and since the program launched, absenteeism has been reduced by 12.5 percent. According to Rick Leander, Allegacy Business Solutions' president and managing director, businesses today should be primarily concerned with healthcare costs. Through a successful wellness program, businesses of all kinds can reduce these expenses.

"We have had great success internally with building a wellness culture, have been recognized nationally for our achievements and want to offer our capabilities and community connections to our business members and others to help lead the change in corporate wellness programs," Leander said in a press release. "...Building a culture of health and wellbeing is extremely beneficial as a healthy workforce is an asset in so many ways."

Other credit unions are beginning to offer wellness programs to their members as well. A wellness program designed for employers called hubbub health has been a popular choice among some credit unions, according to Oregon Business.

hubbub is based around two-week challenges that can include employees' family and friends. These help to keep the employee engaged and focused on self-improvement.

Mark Zook, CEO of Maps Credit Union in Oregon, told Oregon Business that the program has been advantageous to the credit union and its employees.

"We have seen a decrease in absenteeism and better employee engagement," Zook said. "Our group's medical claims have diminished directly impacting our bottom line."

Getting leadership interested
Gallup's research found that the most successful wellness programs show employees that it's ok to participate. This is accomplished when managers and supervisors are active in the program and encourage other employees to become involved as well.

Gallup explained that when managers take the time out of their day to work out or attend their child's school play, other employees will feel good about doing the same. Three human resources professionals from credit unions that have implemented hubbub explained how this can be achieved in a white paper from Cambia Health.

Nicole Colgan, the director of human resources and employee development at TwinStar Credit Union in Washington, explained that creating wellness challenges helped to encourage employees at all levels to participate in the program and talk to each other about wellness.

Improving financial health
Other credit unions and businesses have branched out from physical wellness and focused on other important well-being aspects. According to a report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, about 25 percent of employers have a plan to help their employees improve their financial health. Others plan to incorporate one in the next two years.

"Eighty-three percent of employers feel responsible for their employee's financial health."

The report stated that 83 percent of employers feel responsible for their employee's financial health. David Tyrie, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's head of retirement and personal wealth solutions, explained in a press release that companies need to be offering their employees more than just a 401(k) plan; they need to help them improve their financial health overall.

Security Service Federal Credit Union in Texas restructured its wellness program to include physical, emotional and financial health, according to a press release. Since the new program was implemented, more of the credit union's employees have taken advantage of it, creating a happier work environment. Jim Laffoon, Security Service's CEO, explained in the press release that they key to having happy employees is making sure they are able to balance home and work life and are financially secure.

"I am thrilled that we are embarking on this initiative that is laying the foundation for a healthier work environment," Laffoon said. "We are making significant investments providing meaningful and relevant products and services for our employees and their families."