Investing in Employee Health and Wellness

Investing in Employee Health and Wellness

Employee Wellness Programs Save Money and Increase Retention and Productivity

This morning I stumbled upon an article by Janet Pearson from the Tulsa World newspaper entitled “Working out at Work.” The article focused on the business benefits employers experience due to investments in employee wellness programs,

citing research from a Principal Financial Group study that revealed that employers with workplace wellness program experience a 3-to-1 return on their investment, including a reduction in health care costs, reduced absenteeism, an increased intention to stay with the employer longer and increased level of commitment from employees. 

As Pearson pointed out in her article, many business leaders might question why employee wellness is the employer’s responsibility. She references the story of a local company that set a maximum BMI for employees and job candidates. Many employers looking to save on health care costs may create policies that discriminate against an employee based on their personal health, noting that employer-incurred health care costs increase for employees with unhealthy habits like smoking, obesity, or even pre-existing medical conditions (not all of which are protected by non-discrimination laws). Before going down those scary paths, wouldn’t it just be easier to make a small investment in employee wellness, knowing that it might pay off threefold?

The Best Companies to Work For are increasingly making investments in employee wellness programs, offering an array of onsite health services and rewarding employees for progress toward developing healthy habits. Recently at the Great Place To Work® Conference, American Express shared their story about unrolling a new health and wellness program for their employees, and experiencing successes similar to those noted above. As a noted employer and long-time Best Company to Work For, American Express is committed to employee well-being, however, they also noted strong financial motivations for making an investment in wellness. If just a 10% increase in employee wellness could be achieved, a considerable impact could be had on P&L.

Being a great workplace pays off, whether it is from increase revenues, decreased expenses, or greater per worker productivity, not to mention increased employee morale and increased retention. In an era of skyrocketing health care costs, coupled with skyrocketing cases of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes (no doubt aided on by the sedentary working conditions so many of us endure for 8+ hours per day), an investment in employee wellness should not be thought of as a nice-to-have, but an investment that enables significant savings and contributes to creating a great workplace culture.

Have you benefited from an employer sponsored health and wellness program?

What does your company do to encourage healthy habits among employees?

Leslie Caccamese serves as Senior Strategic Marketing Manager with Great Place To Work® Institute