Does your agency promote workplace wellness?

Gym memberships. Yoga classes. Weight loss competitions. Healthy snacks. Support groups for smokers wanting to quit. Fun runs.

If you’re looking for ways to increase employee productivity and create a more health-minded culture within your insurance business, you may want to consider the impact of those types of initiatives. Wellness programs, even informal ones, have been shown to improve employee health, reduce illness-related downtime and mitigate healthcare costs. A recent study by Brigham Young University found that businesses saved $3.27 for every dollar they spent on employee wellness.

Not surprisingly, wellness programs have seen broader acceptance nationally as an effective — and proven — mechanism for saving money for both the employee and employer. Here’s how they can help:

Reduce sick leave and improve morale. In general, an employee that enjoys exercise time with a co-worker will make time to do it, cutting down on costly sick days. A study published in Health Affairs suggests that employers save $2.73 for every dollar spent on wellness through decreased employee absenteeism. And that doesn’t calculate the financial gains that come through long-term employee retention. Happy employees tend to remain in their positions longer, reducing turnover and training costs. Over time, wellness programs have a direct correlation to increased production since healthier, more energetic employees also benefit from better concentration.

Cut down on claims and overall healthcare costs. Wellness programs have proven to produce healthier, more engaged employees. But they have also been shown to reduce health care costs as risk factors such as weight, high blood pressure and tobacco use decrease. Employees who take a proactive approach to their health and fitness will tend to file fewer health insurance claims or disability claims, which represents a significant annual savings.

Minimize acute and chronic health conditions. Most wellness programs go beyond a focus on medical help to offer nutritional advice and exercise regimens designed to reduce stress. The result is fewer strokes, heart attacks and cases of diabetes. Long-term, a fitter staff also makes for fewer cases of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Create a happier workforce. Benefits are important to employees, and studies show that wellness programs resonate with a growing number of workers. More Americans are looking for ways to live longer and healthier lives, and appreciate it when their employer offers them tools to help them accomplish that goal.