Wellness is increasingly important to people all around the world. Employers are meeting these shifting priorities with wellness programs, which are transforming employee engagement for the better — all while saving employers money.
There are many benefits of employee wellness — increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction, easier talent recruitment, higher retention, and lower healthcare costs. This turns the cost of a wellness program from a P&L drag into a bottom-line boost.
Here’s how this dynamic plays out.
How Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?
Corporate wellness programs have been shown to help people adopt healthy behaviors and decrease their usage of healthcare prescriptions.
When workplace wellness programs are implemented effectively, they are known to have positive effects on an employee’s overall mood by reducing stress via the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain during physical exercise or mindfulness practices. These improvements in life bolster employees’ ability to perform and engage in the workplace as well. With a holistic wellness program in place, companies can help employees address a wide variety of health and wellness issues, helping each employee better engage in their lives and work alike.
How Much Do Corporate Wellness Programs Cost?
The cost of wellness programs can vary widely, depending on what you offer your employees. Estimates range from $150 to $1,200 per employee per year, an investment that can return up to $4 per every dollar spent thanks to reduced need to spend on healthcare and recruitment, as well as increased productivity (See “The ROI of Wellness Programs” below for more information on their bottom-line benefits.)
When calculating the cost of wellness programs for your employees, you will want to consider a variety of factors, including:
Some wellness initiatives, like a Work Week Steps Challenge, can be implemented within the organization without incurring any expenses by engaging an external party. On the other hand, initiatives such as hosting a flu shot clinic may involve a cost associated with organizing the event.
The time your department puts into planning, promoting, and overseeing these programs is valuable. You’ll want to estimate how many hours a program will take to oversee to evaluate how much it will cost the company in staff time.
Staff Costs Outside of HR
To ensure effective execution of wellness programs, such as financial fitness webinars or lunch-and-learn sessions, it is important to account for the cost of staff participation and consider additional compensation for non-HR employees involved in program management. For instance, offering supplementary compensation to group leaders of affinity groups can greatly enhance the impact and longevity of initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Rewards and Incentives
Companies may choose to incentivize wellness program participation with rewards like gift cards for competition winners or additional days off upon challenge completion. When implementing such programs, it is important to allocate a budget for the rewards.
Take note of recurring payments for extended wellness programs, such as gym membership reimbursements, mental wellness app subscriptions, and child care subsidies.
The ROI of Wellness Programs
The costs of wellness programs should also be considered in the context of their returns. As revealed in Gympass’ 2023 Return on Wellbeing Study — which surveyed more than 2,000 HR leaders — 90% of companies see positive returns from their wellness spending. Eighty-five percent of C-suite respondents even said that they view wellness programs as a tactic for cost savings.
This impact comes from a triple-bottom-line impact of wellness programs, as they boost productivity while reducing healthcare and talent management costs.
Poor health and low morale are two of major productivity killers in the modern workplace. Eighty-five percent of companies that implement wellness programs see decreases in sick days, and 98% of HR leaders see improvements in employee satisfaction, boosting productivity across the board.
Wellness programs can help employees improve their day-to-day physical and mental wellbeing. With proactive and consistent wellness habits, the need for costly medical intervention is reduced. Gympass clients, for example, see their healthcare costs drop by up to 35%.
Today’s talent expects employers to support their physical and emotional health. Wellness programs attract top talent in a competitive job market. Plus, a focus on wellbeing can boost employee satisfaction, maximizing retention. With the cost of turnover reaching up to 200% of an employee’s salary, wellness programs quickly pay for themselves.
Four Must-Have Features in an Employee Wellness Program
Finding a program to provide the best returns can be tricky. Looking for wellness benefits and programs that serve users and the company will lead to maximum returns. Find the best workplace wellness program to encourage employee health and wellness by searching for programs that include these must-haves.
- A Mix of In-Person and On-Demand Offerings
There’s no one-size-fit-all solution to employee wellness. In-person classes are a powerful tool but, given the distributed nature of so many teams today, they cannot be your only offering. On-demand offerings — like livestreamed fitness classes or app subscriptions — are also a valuable part of a modern wellness initiative. Gympass, for example, offers employees access to over 50,000 in-person and on demand wellness activities and dozens of apps, enabling anyone to find the wellness tools they need.
Offering a flexible selection of wellbeing options makes your program more inclusive and accessible, as workers can choose what resource best support them. This also makes it more likely that employees will use the program, driving up engagement rates.
- Mental Wellbeing Support
Your employees’ emotional health affects every aspect of their lives, including work. A poor mental state drives absenteeism, disengagement, and presenteeism — costly issues for any business. A holistic program that incorporates mental wellbeing support in addition to physical wellness options is more likely to produce long-term wellness benefits for your business and its employees. Giving employees access to services like Headspace, Meditopia, and Root’d — all Gympass partners — enables your workforce to enrich their mental wellbeing on their own schedule.
- Effective Onboarding
A company that supports your onboarding efforts will help to maximize employee buy-in to the program. After all, your employees are more likely to participate in a new wellness program if they’ve heard about and understand than one they’re unaware of or confused by! Gympass has empowered HR teams for a decade with all the communication tools they need to kick start their employees’ wellness journey. We tap trending strategies — like monthly campaigns, event calendars, webinars, wellbeing content, and communication plans — to help organizations reach their target employee adoption rates. Our support starts during onboarding, and continues for our entire partnership through wellbeing content, campaigns, programs, and virtual events. Together, we promote habit shifts that foster a culture of wellbeing within your organization.
- Analytics Tracking
Employee wellbeing statistics are an important part of any modern HR analytics reporting. It’s important that any program you deploy enables you to show how widely and frequently it’s used by your workforce. This enables you to calculate the program’s bottom-line contribution, which enables your HR department to quantify its value and make a slam-dunk case for renewing the program from one year to the next.
Gympass’ integrated access hub allows organizations to easily manage their wellbeing program. Our simple admin tool lets HR leaders invite employees to participate, manage payments and subscriptions, and track employee wellness activities and trends — all in one place.
Wellness is a Cost-Saving Investment
Corporate wellness programs help employees build and maintain habits that improve their health, allowing them to live and work to their greatest potential. While launching the program will require an initial investment, wellness programs can ultimately save companies money by boosting employee productivity while reducing healthcare and talent management costs.
Gympass delivers workforce wellness to more than 15,000 companies, who see their healthcare costs drop by up to 35% and turnover reduce by up to 40%.
Are you ready for a wellbeing program that delivers? Talk with a wellbeing specialist today!
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- 9 Employee Engagement Statistics You Should Know For 2023. (2022, December 22). Wellable. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://www.wellable.co/blog/employee-engagement-statistics-you-should-know/
- Olsen, J. (n.d.). How Much Do Wellness Programs Cost?. Passport Health. https://www.passporthealthusa.com/employer-solutions/blog/2019-5-how-much-do-wellness-programs-cost/
- Milligan, S. (2017, August 21). Employers Take Wellness to a Higher Level. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0917/pages/employers-take-wellness-to-a-higher-level.aspx
- Regular Exercise Benefits Both Mind and Body: A Psychiatrist Explains. (2021, December 22). Permanente Medicine. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/mas/news/regular-exercise-benefits-both-mind-and-body-a-psychiatrist-explains-1903986
- The Return on Wellbeing Study. (2023). Gympass. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://gympass.com/en-us/resources/research/return-on-wellbeing-study-2023/
- Song, Z., & Baicker, K. (2019, April 16). Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes. Jama Network. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2730614
- Wright, A., Mertens, J., Gherson, D., & Bersin, J. (2020, October 16). Accelerating the journey to HR 3.0. IBM. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from https://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/institute-business-value/en-us/report/hr-3
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.