Wellness Programs

Is your company promoting a healthy workplace?

Most people can get behind the idea that health, happiness, and productivity at work are related concepts, and that companies have an opportunity to foster all three—to everybody’s benefit—with a corporate wellness program.

But while most companies do “something” to promote employee health and well-being, very few—just 7% of companies surveyed in a nationally representative 2008 study, offer a “comprehensive program.” What we know from the literature is that people who have comprehensive programs have better health outcomes and other outcomes we expect from a comprehensive approach.

The health outcomes of corporate wellness programs are many, including smoking cessation, weight loss and obesity prevention, diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol management, and personal health and safety practices like seat belt use, sleep hygiene, and stress management.

Business outcomes include lower absenteeism, higher job satisfaction and work productivity, higher employee retention, and lower health care costs. Given the variety in types of wellness programs, it’s difficult to pinpoint precise financial benefits, but one 2012 review of 62 studies, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found 25 percent lower sick leave, health plan, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance costs among companies that had wellness programs. And a 2014 Harvard Business Review study of 20 companies found an average annual health care cost increase of 1-2% for companies with wellness programs, compared to the 7% national average.