Workplace Wellness - What You Need to Know


by: Brad Swanson

This is an overview of workplace wellness, why organizations are investing in it, what types of products are available, and the newest trends to keep track of.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick version:

Organizations are increasing their use of workplace wellness benefits to decrease costs and improve culture. Regardless of whether you offer services that identify problems, support individual behavior changes, or promote a healthy lifestyle, you will see the greatest ROI from tracking the performance of your wellness programs and offering customized benefits for your employees.

To start - why are organizations investing so much in workplace wellness?

- Attract & Retain Talent -

Getting the best talent to join and stay on your team is a major concern for most organizations. But in the current environment of historically low unemployment, organizations really have to up their game to be competitive. An office ping pong table is nice, but it isn't enough. Employees want to work for organizations that are invested in their health and wellbeing. So what better way to show you care than with robust and sincere wellness programs. We're talking about benefits that employees actually want to use or already use and now are getting for cheaper.

- Lower Health Care Costs -

Hopefully by now, everyone has seen the scary graphs showing health care costs rising at uncontrollable rates (1). If your organization is self insured, meaning you pay for your employees health insurance, then your organization is on the line for your employees' health. The healthier they are, the less you pay. With industry experts reporting between a $2 to $4 ROI on every dollar spent on wellness benefits (2) , it makes sense for organizations to put forth some investment and help their employees stay healthy and decrease absenteeism. Also, I'll include in this section the benefit of helping employees stay engaged at work (decreasing presenteeism, improving productivity). If your employee is eating well, staying active, and feels supported, will likely perform better at work.

- Culture -

The intangible that we all want to improve - culture. Remote work options, less meetings, management training for leadership, and opportunities for growth and advancement for employees all play a role in culture. Another way organizations are improving culture is investing in their employees. While organizations have to focus on their bottom line, putting money towards benefits that improve the quality of life for your employees demonstrates that you actually care. And for organizations that create the positive culture that employees desire comes all the spoils - happy workers, improved performance, employee referrals, growth, and profit!

Workplace Wellness ROI: It Depends Upon Execution


by: Brad Swanson

It has been widely published that ROI of wellness programs range from very little to $6 return for every $1 invested. We all want that $6 return! But how do you get that? And how do you know you’re getting it?


When evaluating the ROI of your workplace wellness program, start with the goals of your program - decreasing healthcare costs, morale, retention, employee engagement - as that changes what you measure. Next, ensure the correct people - HR, CFO, management - are involved with implementing your program. Last, determine how long you will let the program run before measuring ROI.

- Start with Why -

To better understand the ROI of your wellness programs, we have to talk about execution. Like everything in business, success depends heavily on execution. And it all starts with why you are implementing the programs. What is the problem you are solving by implementing a wellness program? Are you trying to improve employee turnover or offer benefits to attract new talent? Are you trying to decrease health insurance overhead costs? Or are you trying to improve employee engagement? The desired end state will heavily influence every other aspect of execution.

Lowering healthcare costs has a very direct and measurable return. If you have an employee population with high health risks or high healthcare costs and you effectively implement wellness programs that focus on curbing those costs – you can hope to have a measurable, positive ROI. Your insurance carrier should be able to give you quarterly or annual reports that clearly articulate your costs that you can compare.

Improving employee turnover or attracting new talent is a slightly harder to measure. You need to first establish the benchmarks you are measuring against which depends heavily on your organization. Are you growing quickly and hiring constantly? How long do your employees stay at your company? And what is the sentiment of your current employees? If you aren’t already doing this, I highly recommend finding or building a measurement tool to understand how satisfied your employees are. This takes time and some trial and error to get right. But if done correctly you will understand your culture, what you’re doing right, and what you can improve upon. This will pay infinite dividends in time and money when your organization is trying to figure out why employees are happy or not, which programs to implement, and whether the programs you implement are working, which includes your wellness programs.

Measuring employee engagement can involve a mix of easy and not so easy data points. It should be relatively easy to measure sick days per employee. It might be slightly more difficult to measure how productive and engaged your employees are. Some organizations are lucky and their work is easily trackable by projects completed or already use project management tools to track productivity. If you are not in this category, something is better than nothing. Find a way to track productivity and employee engagement.


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