What Makes a Successful Corporate Wellness Program?

Written by benefitexpress | June 23, 2016

As the “talent war race” (a name developed by Tuition.io CEO Brendon McQueen) continues, HR news sites and blogs are being flooded with ideas for attracting and retaining top talent. Every third tweet is about some kind of Silicon Valley perk, each more flashy and expensive than the last.

Those without a venture capital budget are turning to one of the more popular benefits: a corporate wellness program. Various iterations of company-wide wellness plans are more common than ever before, and Google searches for the term “wellness program ideas” grew by 350% in the past month.

So, does a well-designed wellness plan really live up to the hype?

As it turns out, the benefits of a corporate wellness program extend well beyond just cutting health plan costs. The catch? Wellness programs are not a ground-up kind of operation; programs are around half as effective without senior leadership support, according to a 2016 study by the American Psychological Association. “Promoting employee well-being isn’t a singular activity, but is instead set up in a climate that is cultivated, embraced, and supported by high-level leaders and managers,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, and director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

When senior management is involved, however, the returns are significant. For example, employees working for a company with an executive-supported wellness program were over 3 times more likely to be satisfied with their job and more than twice as likely to feel motivated to do their best. Employees are two times as likely to feel chronic stress when they don’t feel valued at work and are also more than twice as likely to be cynical/negative in their dealings with coworkers (and potential clients). Employees who do feel valued and supported are less than half as likely to plan to leave their job within the next year.

How does the company quantify benefits from employee wellness plans?

There are the obvious monetary advantages of having employees take fewer sick days, but the benefits go even deeper. With much higher job satisfaction comes higher employee retention rates. This reduces costs associated with high employee turnover (including recruiting, setup, and onboarding for new employees). In addition, employees who trust your company are more likely to advocate your company to consumers.

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Topics: Health & Wellness