Why, What and How: Employee Wellness Programs For Your Company

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Blame it on the 70s, when that new phenomenon -- jogging or yogging -- became popular. Since then, there's been one new health kick after another, but one new health trend may actually save your company money -- employee wellness programs.

Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs

While sources vary as to actual savings, here's a little sampling: the Harvard Business Review did a study in 2010 that put the savings at $6 per every dollar invested in a wellness program; the Huffington Post cites a study that puts the savings at $3.37 per every dollar invested in a wellness program; and Keas, a wellness program provider, states that unhealthy employees cost companies $11,176 annually, per employee.

The benefits are not only seen in savings, but can also been seen in employee health, happiness, productivity, morale and satisfaction. A healthy employee is a happy, effective employee -- and one who shows up to work more often than a sick employee.

Characteristics of Successful Wellness Programs

According to the Harvard Business Review, successful employee wellness programs have many similar traits -- some of them are:

Corporate Culture, Message and Communications

The messaging from the top down should be consistent and aligned with your existing corporate culture and communications. Wellness can't just be an on-site gym, the company must believe in, and promote, the message and make wellness a part of the corporate culture.

Scope, Quality and Accessibility

The program should be large enough to offer variety to employees and be of excellent quality if you want it to be successful. For instance, on-site accessibility is a big incentive for employees interested in saving time.

Management and Partnership

The wellness program must be properly managed, and partnerships with internal and external sponsors can help with program growth and incentives.

Incorporating Wellness Programs

Many kinds of wellness programs are available, the hardest part of implementation will be finding a good fit for your company. Here are some examples of wellness initiatives that your company could put in place:

  • On-site flu shots;
  • On-site gym;
  • Off-site gym memberships;
  • Nutritional Information posted in the cafeteria;
  • Healthy menu options on the cafeteria menu;
  • Company sponsored races to raise money for charity, like five or 10Ks;
  • Daily emailed health tips;
  • Discourage tobacco use;
  • Incentivized programs to reach a goal (eat healthy, lose weight, stop smoking, etc.).

As with any employee benefit, all of these plans should run through the HR and legal departments, and come equipped with the proper waivers and limitations of liability, where appropriate. While it may seem like a lot of work up front, the company, and its employees, stand to benefit in the long run.

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