When wellness programs are implemented correctly by using thorough, company-specific
research and planning, they have win-win potential for both the employer and the employees. Wellness programs can benefit employers by:
- Lowering health care costs.
- Reducing absenteeism.
- Achieving higher employee productivity.
- Reducing workers’ compensation and disability-related costs.
- Reducing injuries.
- Improving employee morale and loyalty.
Numerous studies have indicated health care costs can be contained or even reduced by implementing wellness programs. A 2011 study published by the American Journal of Health Promotion demonstrated that health care costs rose at a 15 percent slower rate among wellness program participants when employers consistently offered a wellness program to their employees.
A review of 72 studies published in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed an average corporate wellness return on investment (ROI) of $3.48 per $1 when considering health care costs alone, $5.82 when examining absenteeism and $4.30 when both outcomes are considered. While these figures are promising, it is important to note that results may vary significantly among employers. Variables such as types of programs, incentives offered, off-the-shelf versus company-specific programs will all affect the ROI.
Although many research studies have linked health care costs and wellness programs, there has not been much research on productivity. However, a study published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has shown a strong association between the number of employee health risks and productivity loss, ranging from a 3.4 percent productivity loss for those with none of the eight assessed health risks to a 24 percent productivity loss for people with all eight health risks. This means that employees with the most health risks had seven times more lost productivity at work than those with no health risks. Wellness programs can be designed to reduce or eliminate such health risks of employees.
Finally, a Canadian survey released in 2008 found that 83 percent of primary health plan benefit members said they would more likely remain in their job if they really believed their employer was interested in maintaining their good health.