Wellness Programs: Are They ‘Worth It’?


Wellness programs are on the rise in the workplace because ‘a healthy employee is a happy employee’, right? While this statement may be true- the statement ‘a healthy employee means lower company health costs’ should receive credit for increased wellness initiatives as well.

Employer group health plans sometimes are a company’s largest cost, and the recent changes with the Affordable Care Act have employers rethinking their benefit packages to create a new, more compliant plan. Wellness initiatives can keep employees healthy and out of the doctor’s office, which keeps premiums lower. But don’t wellness programs cost money too? It has been estimated that mid- and large-size employers spend hundreds of dollars per each employee on wellness programs, which is a significant increase from wellness spending even as recent as five years ago. There is not much data indicating the effectiveness in the increase of wellness spending, but employers are keeping their fingers crossed that the longevity of these programs will result in some eventual return on investment.

It’s hard for employees not to get excited when you hear about new workplace initiatives like smoking cessation classes, weight management resources, ergonomics education and more. Many companies have even partnered with Weight Watchers, local yoga studios, and other programed resources  to offer employees a more convenient way to participate in lunchtime meetings and fitness classes. One of my company’s most popular wellness initiatives to date is a steps competition that encouraged employees to record their weekly steps as a team to eventually learn the distance around the state they had walked over the entire competition. Team-centric wellness participation has increased at our office, so we will keep the activities coming in order to keep employees enthusiastic and engaged!

Research indicates that corporate wellness plans could provide specific advantages to the workplace outside of directly impacting the bottom line. For instance, wellness programs increase employee job satisfaction as well as decreases absenteeism and stress. These benefits don’t directly save money, but there are indirect savings since employee turnover and absenteeism is costly in itself.

Thought for the reader: What strategic, wellness initiatives has your workplace implemented in the past couple of years? Have you noticed an increase in participation for those activities?

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my current employer.


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