Employee wellness programs are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s work environment as companies acknowledge the significance of promoting a healthy and engaged workforce. These initiatives encompass a range of activities designed to enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being within the workplace.
Investing in employee wellness programs can boost productivity, reduce healthcare costs, and foster a positive work culture.
This article explores the multifaceted impact of these programs on individuals and organizations, providing insights and recommendations to optimize their effectiveness.
Impact of Employee Wellness Programs
- There are several benefits to employee wellness programs both for employees and companies. Employees enjoy better health benefits and are hence productive and more able to establish healthier relations at work.
- On the other hand, employers enjoy better attendance and engagement, which boosts the quality of outcomes. It also saves a lot in terms of healthcare costs and losses due to employees on sick leaves.
- There are some key metrics to keep in mind when measuring employee wellness. These include employee feedback, sick leaves, overtime hours, financial security, social security, and many others.
- As surprising as it may sound, those in need of the benefits often do not participate in these programs. However, a percentage of health-conscious workers tend to their health via such programs.
- Companies that have adopted these wellness programs have seen considerable returns in the investments they put into such programs.
- As everything has its cons, there are some challenges when it comes to implementing employee wellness programs. Some of these include the speculation that these programs don’t seem to work. Others are that these programs are complex to understand and participate in; thus, many people do not bother taking part.
- However, there are strategies that (if adopted) can change the view above. Employees are more likely to participate in these programs if offered perks like healthcare incentives, trips, complimentary memberships, and many others.
- 52% of businesses in the U.S. recognize the significance of prioritizing workplace wellness.
- Similarly, companies that have adopted wellness programs have seen a 67% increase in employee satisfaction, a 63% increase in financial stability and growth, and a 50% decrease in employee absenteeism.
- According to Workhuman and Gallup, employees who agree that receiving recognition for their work is crucial for growth are 91% more likely to be thriving.
- Those who receive regular recognition for their work are 84% more likely to thrive.
- Employees who receive appropriate levels of recognition are 20-40% less prone to experiencing adverse feelings.
- Moreover, employees receiving authentic recognition are 30-40% less prone to experiencing adverse feelings.
- 11-24% of employees strongly agree that their organization recognizes their life events. Thus, they are able to establish better work relationships.
- According to Gitnux, companies that offer wellness programs have a 66% increase in employee productivity.
- Mental health disorders result in an estimated loss of U.S. $1 trillion in productivity in a year.
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2020, more than 50% of companies with 50 or more employees provided wellness programs to their staff.
- Furthermore, 90% of companies with more than 50,000 employees offered such programs (some sources state this percentage to be 81%).
- The employee participation rate in these wellness programs at the time was 40%.
- A study (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor) shows that employee participation in wellness programs can vary between 20-40% when incentives are offered.
Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
1. Improves Employee Health
According to an article on Indeed, employee wellness programs promote healthy eating and exercise habits. This mitigates the likelihood of long-term health issues and aids in boosting energy levels and employee happiness during work hours.
Wellness programs also seem to impact employees’ mental health positively. This reduces the risk of depression or anxiety caused by work.
2. Boosts Employee Productivity
Studies indicate that employees prioritizing their health are more likely to demonstrate higher productivity levels. This is due to increased restfulness, energy, and motivation to excel in their work.
Moreover, engaging in workplace wellness programs helps employees maintain healthy habits, such as regular exercise, which enhances sleep quality and improves productivity at work.
3. Improves Teamwork
Effective teamwork among employees not only increases productivity but also enhances the quality of their work. Collaborative efforts foster creativity and the generation of innovative ideas. Thus, engaging in wellness programs, especially team-based activities, allows employees to build stronger relationships, support and motivate each other. Moreover, it allows them to maintain accountability for their goals and progress.
1. Improves Employee Engagement
Establishing a company culture that prioritizes employee wellness often results in a highly engaged workforce. Initiatives such as weight loss challenges, walking groups, and other wellness activities foster a sense of connection among employees. These activities strengthen relationships between employees and their managers, eventually increasing the likelihood of long-term retention within the organization.
2. Attracting New Talent
In addition to salary, potential employees value the array of benefits provided by a company. Studies indicate that wellness programs rank high among the benefits that job candidates consider important. Some of these benefits that attract employees are:
- Wellness screenings
- Gym membership reimbursement
- On-site clinics
- Initiatives to serve healthy options at an on-site canteen
- Health and wellness competitions
3. Reduces Healthcare Costs for the Organization
Implementing wellness programs can lead to tangible cost savings for companies through a decrease in healthcare expenses. Enhancing the workforce’s overall health makes employees less prone to illnesses or workplace injuries. Consequently, they require less frequent medical care, resulting in financial savings for both the employees and the organization.
4. Improves Employee Attendance
Employee wellness programs contribute to enhancing the well-being of a company’s workforce. By prioritizing the health of your team and managing stress levels, employers can boost overall job satisfaction and foster a greater sense of commitment among employees. Additionally, when employees feel healthy, and morale is high, they are more motivated to excel in their work. Hence, this leads to improved attendance and performance throughout their organizational tenure.
Employee Well-being Metrics
How to Measure Employee Wellness?
Personio helps organizations allocate more time to strategic work by automating people processes. They also empower H.R. to expand their role beyond traditional H.R. responsibilities.
Some of the basic metrics to measure employee wellness are as follows:
1. Employee Feedback/Ratings
According to an article by Personio, employee feedback is essential for employee well-being. It helps organizations understand and address specific needs, improve satisfaction, and create a supportive work environment.
2. Employee Productivity
Employee productivity reflects employee well-being, indicating their level of engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. Monitoring productivity provides insights into their overall health and helps organizations support their well-being.
3. Sick Leaves
The number of sick leaves taken by employees indicates their well-being, reflecting their physical and mental health as well as their ability to cope with work demands.
The number of hours worked overtime by employees can reflect their well-being. It highlights potential concerns such as high job demands, stress, and poor work-life balance.
The company fluctuation rate reflects employee well-being by highlighting job satisfaction and engagement factors. Fluctuation rate refers to a company’s employee turnover over a measured timespan. The higher the fluctuation (or turnover) rate, the less satisfied employees are with their companies.
The source further mentions that there are multiple ways to test these metrics. They include the following:
- Giving out surveys
- Use technology to analyze the data collected.
- Have private conversations with employees who wish to voice their concerns
AIHR is a platform that provides training and support to H.R. professionals around the world.
According to one of their blog posts, employee well-being comprises the following metrics:
- Career well-being: Whether employees at a certain organization enjoy their respective roles at the company.
- Social well-being: Whether employees enjoy interacting with their colleagues and are able to balance work-life relationships.
- Financial well-being: They are able to manage their expenses well and are satisfied by the financial return they receive.
- Physical well-being: Whether employees are energetic and enthusiastic about their work. This includes factors such as nutrition and exercise.
- Community well-being: Whether employees are satisfied with where they live.
According to a study by Workhuman and Gallup that will be discussed in more detail further along, another crucial metric for employee well-being is the recognition they receive. It is said that recognition shields employees from burnout and encourages them to do their best at work.
What Percentage of Employees Participate in Wellness Programs?
Workhuman is a platform that builds and uplifts human resources to achieve their desired goals. It equips them with the required skills and direction to reach their destinations.
Workhuman, in one of their blogs, states some crucial statistics on employee wellness.
While referencing a post from Forbes, they state that around 9 in 10 employees consider the benefits package when seeking employment. Gen Z and Millennials are among the workforce who are much more particular about the wellness programs at their organizations.
According to a RAND study (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor), employee participation in wellness programs can vary between 20-40% when offered incentives. These percentages are influenced by factors such as program size and scope.
If an organization experiences lower participation rates, assessing the wellness program’s effectiveness is essential. Moreover, relying solely on financial incentives to increase participation is unlikely to yield significant results. In fact, 61% of large employers reported financial rewards as being “completely ineffective” or only “partially effective.”
Better You cites some statistics on employee wellness. According to a 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 50% of companies with 50 or more employees provided wellness programs to their staff. Furthermore, 90% of companies with more than 50,000 employees offered such programs (some sources state this percentage to be 81%). Overall, participation rates in wellness programs are estimated to be approximately 40%.
Gartner’s 2021 EVP Benchmarking Survey provides some credible statistics on the emotional well-being of employees. Although 87% of employees can avail mental well-being resources, a mere 23% of employees actively engage with them. This pattern can be seen across most physical and financial well-being programs.
Impact of Employee Wellness Programs Statistics
Gitnux is a platform whose mission is to deliver top-notch content covering diverse digital topics. From the latest trends in software, H.R., and marketing to business management, they strive to provide readers with the best insights.
One of their blog posts provides some valuable statistics on employee wellness in 2023 that will be categorized further along.
However, it is important to note that, according to this post, 52% of businesses in the U.S. offer their employees workplace wellness programs.
1. Impact of Employee Wellness Programs on Employee Health and Well-being
Employee health and well-being are essential for an organization to thrive and grow. According to Gitnux, companies that have adopted wellness programs have seen the following:
- 67% increase in employee satisfaction.
- 63% increase in financial stability and growth.
- 50% decrease in employee absenteeism.
Workhuman and Gallup conducted a comprehensive study across 12 countries involving over 12,000 employees. The study aimed to uncover the link between employee well-being and its subsequent influence on overall company growth and success. The findings highlighted that recognizing employees’ needs is highly effective and cost-efficient to enhance workplace productivity.
Some of the statistics they mention are as follows:
- Employees who agree that receiving recognition for their work is crucial for growth are 91% more likely to be thriving.
- Employees who receive regular recognition for their work are 84% more likely to be thriving.
- Among the countries surveyed, employees who believe they receive the right amount of recognition are 20-40% less prone to experiencing adverse feelings.
- Moreover, employees who are sure they receive authentic recognition are 30-40% less prone to experiencing adverse feelings.
- 11-24% of employees strongly agree that their organization recognizes their life events.
- Furthermore, companies that encourage social relationships have employees that are 7x as likely to strongly agree that they have meaningful connections with their coworkers.
- Employees who do not enjoy balanced relationships at work are 13x more likely to be suffering than their colleagues with higher social well-being.
2. Impact of Employee Wellness Programs on Workplace Productivity and Employee Engagement
Some more statistics by Gitnux include:
- Companies that offer wellness programs report a 66% increase in employee productivity.
- The importance of workplace wellness can be seen in the fact that 3.5 million women exited the workforce in a single year. Thus, it is essential to support positive well-being initiatives.
- Moreover, mental health disorders annually result in an estimated loss of U.S. $1 trillion in productivity.
Some more statistics from the Workhuman and Gallup study mentioned above are as follows:
- The cost of turnover due to burnout is 15-20% of payroll budgets annually.
- When employee wellness programs are implemented, workers are 90% less likely to drop out because of burnout. Hence, this shows that active wellness program implementation results in fewer burnout rates.
- Additionally, employees experiencing chronic burnout are unable to perform at their best in the workplace. In fact, they have a 63% higher likelihood of absenteeism and are more than twice as likely to actively seek alternative job opportunities.
- Employees who receive recognition at work are 50% less likely to report burnout.
- However, employees who do not receive recognition at work are 2.5 times more likely to report being burned out.
- Moreover, wellness programs enable employees to establish meaningful connections at work. Thus, they are almost 10 times more likely to state that they feel a sense of belonging at their workplace.
3. Return on Investment (ROI) of Employee Wellness Programs
Wellable is a platform that provides support to organizations in achieving their wellness goals.
Return on Investment (ROI) has emerged as a favored approach among executives to substantiate the implementation of wellness programs. This particularly applies to organizations that emphasize cost management and yet high profits.
In one of their blogs, they state certain benefits that require investments, which may otherwise result in heavy losses. For example, according to data from 2018, unwell employees cost U.S. employers about $530 billion in productivity each year.
Among employees enjoying wellness programs, a majority of 62% expressed that their program positively impacted morale and increased their overall productivity. Additionally, 56% of participants reported a reduction in sick days taken as a positive outcome of these programs.
The study by Workhuman and Gallup mentioned above states that low employee well-being could cost $322 billion because of global turnover and lost productivity.
Organizations can lose $20 million for every 10,000 unsatisfied workers without recognition.
Work Smart Live Smart is a platform that enables workers to become resilient and powerful in the face of burnout. They inculcate leadership qualities among people allowing them to manage their time and workload effectively.
One of their posts about the return on investments from employee health programs states were around $2.30 to $10.10. This was observed in the following areas:
- Reduced absenteeism
- Fewer sick days
- Lowered health and insurance costs
- Improved employee performance and productivity.
Nevertheless, the return on investment (ROI) for the Workplace Wellness Plan implemented by the Canadian government ranged from $1.95 to $3.75 per dollar invested per employee.
Similarly, Coors Brewing Co. discovered that their Workplace Wellness Plan yielded a $5.50 return for every dollar invested, while employees who actively engaged in the program experienced an 18% decrease in absenteeism.
Challenges of Implementing Employee Wellness Programs
Common barriers to implementing employee wellness programs
Better You is a platform that actively aids businesses in improving their employee well-being strategies.
In one of their blogs, they state that only those employees who are conscious about their health tend to participate in such programs. Thus, it is not as easy as it sounds to convince more people to take part.
For instance, statistics reveal that gym membership incentives typically benefit only 10-15% of employees who would have enrolled voluntarily. Surprisingly, those who would benefit the most from such incentives are often the least likely to take advantage of them.
Furthermore, they claim that employee wellness programs are complex and hard to understand for most employees. There are better ways to change old habits than such overwhelming initiatives.
According to Resources for Employers, the main challenges when adopting employee well-being programs are as follows:
1. Faulty Metrics to Measure Health:
Most organizations are still following the traditional pattern of measuring employee well-being. This includes the measurement of BMI (Body Mass Index), whereas the latest research suggests that BMI, in fact, is an inaccurate metric to determine an individual’s well-being.
2. Compromise on Health Privacy:
Most of these initiatives pay little to no regard for employee health privacy. This includes sharing data with third-party health service programs. Employees with serious medical conditions may be uncomfortable with this form of data sharing.
3. Uncertainty about Whether These Programs Work or Not:
There are widespread speculations about whether these programs are effective or not. Although many H.R. experts believe they produce promising results, only a few companies were able to provide data for comparison.
Strategies for overcoming these challenges
The same source provides strategies, otherwise called ‘creating a wellness culture’ at companies, to overcome these challenges. These strategies include:
1. Offering Meaningful Benefits:
The benefits companies offer to attract employees should be promised long-term. Examples include medical assistance in terms of surgeries and cost coverage of a luxury trip.
2. Encourage Flexible Working Hours:
Ever since the global pandemic in 2020, employees have become used to flexible working hours. Many, in fact, claim that it aids their productivity at work. In today’s world, many workers seek employment with flexible working hours.
Also, workers used less sick time and reported they were happier hence, unlikely to quit.
How many companies offer workplace wellness programs?
A 2019 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides some details about employee health. The survey states that 84% of companies with more than 200 workers offered one.
What are the benefits that employees actually enjoy as part of these programs?
Some of the incentives that employees can enjoy when enrolled in wellness programs include:
- Free flu shots
- Yearly preventative health screenings
- Health education and resources
- Employer HSA/FSA contributions
- On-site fitness or wellness classes
- Motivation, inspiration, and assistance for leading a healthier lifestyle
- Extra PTO
- Healthcare discounts or lower premiums
- Fun fitness and wellness challenges
- Gym memberships
- Gift cards or cash rewards
- Fun team outings and activities
Resources for Employees states some more of these incentives:
- Online health risk assessments
- Biometric screenings (health screenings that measure blood pressure, weight, height, and body mass index)
- Tobacco cessation programs
- Chronic Disease Management and Prevention
How can employee feedback/surveys improve these wellness programs?
According to a blog on Poppulo, regular surveys, otherwise known as ’empowering questions, ‘ allow companies to make better decisions for their workforce. These questions include inquiring about potential improvements in the work environment, descriptions of an ideal workplace, and comments on social well-being at work. Questions apart from yes/no ones allow employers to gain an in-depth insight into what their employees are looking for at their workplace. Thus, it makes the implementation of these desirable features much easier.
What strategies can companies adopt to boost investment in employee wellness ventures?
The Harvard Business Review quotes a survey by Gartner that specifies these strategies. They include the following:
- Impart knowledge about the importance of well-being programs among employees.
- Encourage employees to be more open towards these programs rather than judging people for them.
- Reduce the complexity of these programs so they are easier for employees to participate in them without costing time and effort.
Conclusively, employee wellness programs play a crucial role in promoting employees’ overall well-being and productivity in the workplace. Through initiatives focused on physical, mental, and emotional health, these programs can reduce healthcare costs, improve employee satisfaction and engagement, and create a supportive and positive work environment. Such incentives benefit both employees and employers. It improves employee productivity and mental health. Similarly, it aids them in establishing healthy relations at work.
Comparatively, employers obtain high-quality results from their staff. They are also saved from losses caused by excessive sick leaves and absenteeism. A considerable percentage of employees participate in wellness programs, and an even bigger percentage of companies offer these perks. However, it is often challenging to communicate the importance of these programs to employees, thus resulting in lower participation percentages.
The uncertainty about the effectiveness of these programs can be overcome if certain policies are adopted by companies worldwide. This includes encouraging flexible working hours and offering meaningful benefits to employees that they will actually use. Thus, by investing in employee wellness programs, organizations can foster a healthier, happier, and more successful workforce, leading to long-term success.