Chamber Insider Blog

Why Corporate Wellness?

Post by Mary Zmuda, Workplace Wellness Manager at Nova Medical & Urgent Care Center

To learn more about the Health & Wellness Initiative, click here.

Meet Unwell Incorporated.

Unwell* is a leading organization in Northern Virginia that saw big changes this past year – many of which were detrimental to the company’s financial bottom line:

  • A 22% increase in health insurance costs
  • An increase in stress levels among its employee population, resulting in more smokers
  • More on-the-job injuries
  • And, a decrease in employee morale and retention rates

Unfortunately, Unwell is not the only employer experiencing these negative changes.   With today’s always-on-the-go mentality and our high-stress, demanding schedules, companies across the country are seeing sicker employees.  And, to make matters worse, it’s paired with increased healthcare costs.

But, some companies are putting an end to these unfavorable outcomes.  By offering a comprehensive, results-oriented employee wellness program – targeting lifestyle management, disease management and prevention – some employers have been able to keep health care costs at bay.  Some have even been able to generate up to a 3:1 return on investment (ROI) for both medical claims and absenteeism costs.  In fact, 98% of large companies and 73% of small companies already offer at least one wellness initiative designed to either increase engagement, improve quality of life, or both.

In addition to potentially garnering a positive financial outcome, many employers find that their employees feel valued when corporate wellness services are offered.   As a result, companies see increased productivity, better retention rates, and decreased absenteeism.  It’s also a great perk to promote when recruiting new employees and talent!

Evaluating your company’s needs and selecting the right combination of corporate wellness services is imperative to having a successful wellness program.

  • Smoking Cessation.  When compared to non-smoking employees, smokers cost a business nearly $6,000 more each year in healthcare, absenteeism, and productivity costs.  By promoting a smoke free campus and implementing a live, telephonic, or web-based smoking cessation program, companies can reduce their healthcare costs, improve their absenteeism rates, and foster more productive employees.
  • Biometric Screenings.   When it comes to managing and preventing disease, knowing your health status is essential.  Biometric screenings measure cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, body fat percentage, and body mass index.  If on-site biometric screenings aren’t feasible, encourage employees to at least get their annual physical – a preventive service that is now 100% covered by all insurance carriers.
  • Health and Wellness Coaching.   Wellness coaching is a client-directed process that taps into internal motivators for change.  Setting personal goals and holding the individual accountable, a wellness coach helps chart a course for change, with action planning and assignments that are realistic and achievable.   Many companies pair biometric screenings and wellness coaching together in an effort to educate employees on their current health status and then create an action plan to improve.
  • Mind Body Health.  Managing the mental state is extremely important for general health maintenance, especially during times of stress, healing or a medical crisis.  Depression is one of the most prevalent health problems among older adults, with an estimated 20% of people aged 55 years or older experiencing some type of mental health issue.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in a three month period, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity.  Psychological counseling and stress management programs for groups – including psychotherapy, breath work, guided imagery and biofeedback – can help improve mental and emotional states.
  • Massage Therapy.  Massage is helpful for alleviating stress, managing anxiety and depression, lessening pain and stiffness, blood pressure control, boosting immunity, cancer treatment, and improving circulation and range of motion.  With so many sedentary and stressed employees, massage therapy can offer relief.
  • Lectures and Workshops.   Education is the cornerstone for change.  Lectures and workshops teach healthy lifestyle basics, from learning how to cook a healthy meal to practicing stress reduction techniques to managing diabetes.
  • Fitness Programs.  Physical fitness is linked to improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity, lower stress levels, and elevated mood.  Additionally, employees who regularly exercise show improved productivity and reduced absenteeism rates.  Fitness programs at the worksite might include an onsite fitness center or dedicated exercise room, group exercise classes, personal training, or yoga.  If you don’t have space, fitness instructors can even come into the workplace and show your employees how to incorporate some easy in-office exercises and techniques.
  • Nutritional Counseling.  Registered Dietitians can help with weight loss, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, fatigue, thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders, GI and stomach issues, family meal planning, and more.   According to the Health Enhancement Research Organization, American workers who eat healthy all day long are 25% more likely to have higher job performance.   Worksite nutritional counseling can be done one-on-one or in a group setting.

Seeing an ROI is possible with the proper execution of a wellness program.  Coors Brewing Company in 2013 reported a $6.15 productivity gain for every one dollar invested in food and fitness.  Johnson and Johnson estimates that their wellness program has saved the company over $250 million on health care costs over the past decade.   And, at the SAS Institute, voluntary turnover is just 4%, largely in part due to their successful wellness program.  These are just a few examples of the many companies making a difference in their employees’ lives and companies’ bottom line.

*Unwell Incorporated is a fictional company, based on a real company in the Northern Virginia area.


  • Depression. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013.
  • Employer Health Benefits 2014 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014.
  • Health Enhancement Research Organization, 2013.
  • Smoking Cessation Health Center. WebMD, 2013.
  • “What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?” Harvard Business Review, 2010.

-Posted by Wellness Manager Mary Zmuda