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Employers Look Beyond ROI for Wellness Programs… Here’s Why

/ June 14, 2017 June 14, 2017


Gone are the days of using numbers to measure the success of your wellness program. Employers are now focusing on employee well-being as the most important measure of success.

The case for wellness programs is made in International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) 2017 Workplace Wellness Trends Report. IFEBP’s survey found that “75% of employers offer wellness initiatives primarily to improve overall worker health and well-being. Only one in four employers said that the main reason for offering wellness initiatives is to “control/reduce health-related costs.” The report adds that “continued increases in productivity and decreases in absenteeism strengthen the case for such programs.”

Successful wellness programs focus on the “whole employee” and not only touch on the physical (weight loss, nutrition, exercise) components, but also include the emotional and psychological development of your employees. “Employers are realizing it’s not just about cutting costs, because wellness is not only about physical health,” says Julie Stich CEBS, Associate Vice President of Content at IFEBP. She adds that embracing the broad definition of wellness has led to a tremendous impact on organizational health and worker productivity and happiness.”

According to the survey results, more than half of the employers who provide wellness programs and track the results, say that they see a decrease in absenteeism. In addition, 63 percent are experiencing financial sustainability and growth in the organization, 66 percent reported increased productivity and 67 percent say employees are more satisfied.

Although traditional wellness offerings like flu shots remain popular (77% of employers offer free or discounted flu shots) “emerging” wellness benefits include:

  • Chiropractic services coverage—62%
  • Community charity drives/events—59%
  • On-site events/celebrations—58%
  • Wellness competitions like walking/fitness challenges—51%
  • Healthy food choices in cafeteria or vending machines—44%
  • Standing/walking work stations—42%
  • Wearable fitness trackers—23%

As wellness programs continue to grow in popularity, it’s important to consider how you measure the results of your program. The shift to measuring success on employee well-being rather than ROI on healthcare costs is a new way to think about your wellness program’s effectiveness.