Chamber Insider Blog

Workplace Wellness: What’s the Point?

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

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Workplace Wellness…what’s the point? We’ve all heard these statements before, right?

“Having healthy employees will save your company money.” 

“See up to a 6:1 return on your investment (ROI) with a workplace wellness program.” 

“Reduce turnover by having a culture of wellness.”

And, the most popular one: “Healthy employees = lower health care costs.” 

The fact is that 80% of all employers offer some form of a wellness program to their employees.  But, why?  Are these companies just being sheep and following the workplace wellness herd?   Or, can companies actually benefit from a workplace wellness program?

The answer is YES, companies can actually benefit from a workplace wellness program…  But, with hard work and dedication!  So, what does that mean and where would you even begin?  Well, with a little guidance, it can be as easy as 1-2-3…

Step #1: Identify what your company wants to achieve from implementing a wellness program.  You wouldn’t have a successful company without a clear mission and vision – so, don’t have a workplace wellness program without this either. 

What is your goal?

Do you want to lower healthcare costs?

Do you want more productive employees?

Do you want to be known as “A great place to work” to attract the best talent?

Do you want to improve the morale around your office?

Do you want to lower worker’s compensation claims?

Do you want to reduce turnover?

While all of these things may be important to your company (and can be impacted by implementing a workplace wellness program), rank them in order of importance to give your program guidance. 

Step #2: Avoid “Random acts of wellness.”   Many workplace wellness programs fail (And waste company funds and resources!) because they implement “random acts of wellness” and expect to see a return.  What do I mean by these?  Maybe you offer a Smoothie Day once on a random Tuesday, or hang up educational posters every once in a while. 

In order for a wellness program to be successful, wellness needs to be a constant in your workplace culture.  Create a comprehensive plan including a monthly wellness calendar.  This should be filled with on-going education and events that all build on each other.  Most importantly: be sure your plans appeal to employees at every level of health! 

This doesn’t need to break the budget – look around your company and utilize what you have.  For example, do you have a walking trail or sidewalks around your building?  If so, start some walking groups or implement walking meetings.  Or, simply encourage your employees to use them!

Step #3: Evaluate.  A big reason why “random acts of wellness” don’t work is because they aren’t able to be properly evaluated.  Program evaluation is not easy, but it is necessary in order to determine the success of your program. 

Determine a baseline – use biometric screenings or annual physical data combined with a health assessment to determine your population’s health.  Look at insurance claims to see the top drivers of your costs.  Document absenteeism and employee turnover statistics.  It’s important that you involve all of the company’s key players in collecting this data (i.e. human resources, your insurance broker or health insurance carrier, your CFO, CEO, and department managers).

Once you have this data, use it to identify your company’s biggest wellness needs and to craft your program plan.  If you find that your company has a lot of smokers, offer a smoking cessation program.  If a high percentage of your employees are sedentary, coordinate a physical activity challenge.  Then, of course, once you implement something, evaluate again.  Did your program decrease the amount of smokers and sedentary employees?  Did your health assessment show that your employees’ health increased?  How did this impact your insurance claims, attendance rates, or department morale?

Be patient – seeing an actual ROI may take three to five years, but with a well-run program it is very possible to achieve big results!

Lastly, remember that when it comes to workplace wellness, size doesn’t matter!  Large employers and small employers all have something to gain from a workplace wellness program.  Go back to step one and don’t use the size of your company as an excuse – start planning today!


Thank you to Mary Zmuda for writing this post! Check out the Healthy Business Challenge today!