Workplace Wellness Programs – Do they really work?


Corporate wellness is one of the buzz words sweeping the business world, but is the cost of investing in health and wellness programs really worth it in the long run? Do these programs actually have any proven benefits?

The answer is an emphatic “yes,” as plenty of research has shown the tangible monetary benefit of successfully implementing a corporate wellness program. For example, corporate giant Johnson and Johnson estimates that the return-on-investment for every dollar spent on workplace wellness is around $2.71, with the company itself claiming to have saved $250 million over five years due to investments in wellness.

However, just looking at the monetary gains is short sighted. Properly designed wellness programs can also help protect a businesses’ most valuable asset: their employees. When Chief Executive Officers of leading organisations are asked what makes them so successful, the answer is often “our employees”. Employers want healthy and happy employees and are increasingly turning to wellness programs to achieve this goal. Getting your workforce to actually participate is the hard part, which is why it is so important to create a program tailored to your specific company’s needs.

The Benefits of Wellness Programs

Let’s start by having a look at just why these programs are so important. Study after study has proven without a shadow of a doubt that an investment in workplace wellness is a positive investment for your company. In addition to this monetary benefit, research has shown us that a properly managed wellness program provides your employees with:

  1. Fun and engaging programs, such as gym memberships, team sports and fitness challenges do wonders for morale. Sometimes life at the office or workplace can become overwhelming or stressful and having an outlet to release or remove yourself from the physical space does wonders for both the body and mind. Mixing things up keeps your workforce from getting stagnant and shopping around for another job.
  2. Improved productivity. Engaging in workplace wellness activities, like exercising and eating well, increases employee productivity and performance. Fit workers get tired less, have more motivation and are better focused on their tasks.
  3. More satisfaction. According to the AFLAC 2012 Workforce Report, employees who took part in a workplace wellness program were more satisfied at their jobs than those who didn’t partake.
  4. Less stress. Stress is a leading factor in mental illness, which 45% of Australians will experience in their lifetime. A good wellness program provides your employees with an outlet for their stress and can assist in the prevention of more serious mental illness in the future, such as anxiety or depression.
  5. Sense of accomplishment. When your employees can see the progress they are making in their wellness program, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. This carries over to their work duties, making them feel more confident about their jobs.

Getting Employees to Participate

Developing a tailor made workplace wellness program for your business is the easy part – and something that Bodycare is more than happy to help with. Getting your employees to actually participate… that’s the hard part. Many people are naturally resistant to change and even though the benefits of workplace wellness reach far and wide, some of your workforce will still remain skeptical. Here are some tips and tricks to get them involved

“One size fits all” solutions to wellness are certainly a lot cheaper than personalised approaches, but can alienate your workforce and make them feel left out. Offering a wide range of different programs that are aimed at different levels of fitness and personality types will help your workforce feel included and more encouraged to participate.

Lack of proper communication is a killer for even the best designed wellness program. You need to make sure your entire workforce knows all of the ins and outs of the program you are offering – especially the benefits that they can expect to achieve.

Lead by example. If you want your workforce to participate in wellness programs, leadership is also going to have to get on the gym gear. Your employees are more likely to participate in any program if they see their supervisors and executives taking part.

Keep it simple. It’s tempting to implement a huge, all-inclusive wellness program that tackles every single health issue that could possibly arise in your workplace in order to get the maximum return on investment, but such a program would be daunting to even the most ambitious employee. Start small and work your way up.

You need to design a program that has a practical application and will actually help improve your employee’s overall health and wellness. Having cooking classes for your blue collar factory workers may not be the right place to start. Selecting programs that are relevant and tailored to the work cohort, is a great place to start.

Health and Wellness Programs for Employees – What Are You Waiting For?

“Wellness programs will always cost money. But if carefully designed and targeted at people who cost employers money, they can be effective,” so says Helen Darling, former president of the NBGH and the current acting president of the National Quality Forum. With all of their proven benefits, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start looking into corporate wellness for your business today. A healthier workplace means that everyone wins.