Will Employee Wellness Save You Money?
Thoughts on this are varied, but the results of empirical studies mostly point towards no. A study by the Rand Institute, a nonprofit think-tank, showed that workplace wellness programs were having little effect on healthcare spending. This is based on 10 years of data from a Fortune 100 company, so it's no small study. Similarly, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found no significant savings in healthcare cost with wellness programs.
Another purported area of savings is in employee productivity. Healthier employees lead to increased productivity which leads to savings, right? The logic makes sense, but the same study by the NBER found no appreciable increases in employee productivity.
You might end up with a pretty grim picture of employee wellness after reading these two studies. Why even bother with employee wellness?
Why Bother With Wellness?
The answer to this question is actually quite simple: because you want to offer support for your employees. Pursuing wellness for any other reason is likely to be a waste of your time. There are benefits to wellness programs — building trust with your employees and increasing the amount of well-being in the world being two of them.
We don't mean to imply that all wellness initiatives are bad, they just aren't a good source of savings for a company. When discussing savings empirical evidence is key and the empirical evidence for wellness programs just isn't there. That doesn't make the health of your employees any less important or minimize your duty to promote a healthy, happy workplace.
Now, if you're still interested in talking about employee wellness there is one thing that we can take away from the research that may be of use in creating more effective wellness programs.
Building Wellness Programs That Work
The study from the NBER found something interesting and fairly obvious in hindsight: employees who sign up for wellness programs are already the most healthy employees. It makes sense that employees who are already engaged in their health would jump at the opportunity to sign up for wellness programs.
What can you do to get the employees who really need it involved? Well, offering financial incentives seems to be the most effective option. Financial incentives — up to a certain point — definitely increased employee participation in health screenings. Health screenings are just one part of a wellness program but the Rand study also found that disease management was the most effective part of the wellness programs they studied, and health screenings are a vital part of that process.
Wellness programs are still worth pursuing. You just need to approach them with the right mindsight. Go into it expecting nothing more than supporting employees who wish to make healthier choices and you won't be disappointed when the savings don't materialize.
At Summerlin-Roberts we want to help you create a happier, healthier workplace for your employees. Please, contact us today for more information on promoting a healthy lifestyle with your wellness program.