6 Great Reasons to Implement a Workplace Wellness Plan

Posted on Monday, March 04, 2019

When Johnson & Johnson, the well-known medical and household goods company, sought to implement a widespread employee wellness program and measure the results, even the most enthusiastic workplace wellness advocates were surprised. The employer estimated that the money it spent implementing a companywide program actually saved $250 million in health care costs and other related expenditures. In addition, the program generated a return on investment of $2.71 for every $1 invested.

While your results will certainly vary, there are a wide variety of reasons why employers should implement and resource a robust, meaningful employee wellness program. Here are six:

1. Reduce absenteeism. The healthier your employees are, the less likely they are to miss work because of illness. Obese employees and employees who smoke also tend to call in sick more often. This can cause staffing issues, workplace disruptions and force other employees to carry the weight of those missing employees. While sickness does happen to everyone, healthier employees recover much faster and are more productive when they do return to work. According to the 2012 Principal Financial Well-Being Index, 43% of workers who participated in an employee wellness program reported missing fewer days at work thanks to their employers' programs.

2. Reduce presenteeism. Sick employees who come to work anyway also create problems. They're generally much less productive, and they may be taking some powerful medications that can even make them safety hazards at work. Moreover, a contagious worker may infect other employees. Studies of the overall cost to employers of presenteeism range from $150 billion to $250 billion per year.

3. Reduced health insurance premiums. Over time, employees who are normal weight and don't smoke use much less health care than their coworkers who are obese, or who smoke or have other preventable lifestyle-related ailments. Obesity often leads to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and hip and knee replacements, for example. All these illnesses and health challenges will eventually show up in your company's health insurance premiums.

4. Fit, healthy employees are more productive. Employees in good physical condition are more alert and have better concentration and stamina than employees who are sick, overweight, coughing or craving their next cigarette. The 2012 Principal Financial Well-Being Index found that 59% of workers who participated in a workplace wellness program credited the program with helping them have more energy, which increased their productivity at work.

5. Employees respond to incentives. A well-designed employee wellness program encourages participation and results. You can provide employees with a bonus for reaching health goals, for example, such as achieving a certain body fat percentage, or completing a smoking cessation or alcohol or drug addiction program.

Other incentive options include employer contributions to a Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Account for eligible employees. Gift certificates, vacation packages and additional paid time off are also possibilities.

The most successful workplace wellness programs generally provide at least some incentive for employees to participate. They make it easy for family members to get involved, as well.

6. Beneficiaries of wellness programs are more loyal to employers. According to the Principal study cited above, 45% of Americans who work at small to medium-sized companies reported they were more likely to stay with employers who offered an employee wellness program.

The Data is Clear

Employee wellness programs generate a variety of tangible and intangible returns to both employers and employees. For more information on how you can get started with an employee wellness program for your business, contact your benefits adviser.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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