Why Workplace Wellness?

Our friends over at Health Hero came up with this list and we loved it so much we asked if we could steal it …

Workplace Wellness: A Classic “Win-Win” Scenario

Top 10 Benefits of Promoting Health in the Workplace

Promoting health in the workplace is a win-win for all. Employers benefit by retaining top talent and reducing healthcare expenditures, while employees benefit from improved physical health and improved workplace morale. Society at large also receives a benefit as the burden on our nation’s healthcare system is reduced.

Invest in a Workplace Wellness Program, and Look Forward to These Benefits:

#1 Decreased Health Care Costs

More than half of Americans have one or more chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes1. These rates of chronic disease and the rising cost of health benefits have created new interest in workplace wellness programs – and this interest pays, with medical costs falling about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, according to a recent analysis by economists at Harvard2.

#2 Improved Workplace Morale

Workplace Wellness Programs indicate to employees that the company cares about their well being. While it is common knowledge that these programs benefit employers, the benefits are mutual. A well taken care of employee feels an affiliation with the company; they develop a level of responsibility associated with their work and are often more engaged with fellow coworkers who are also participating in the wellness program. This also makes for a more harmonious working environment.

#3 Reduced Absenteeism & Sick Leave

By offering health education and lifestyle management resources, workplace wellness programs can decrease the cost of sick days. In fact, absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs2.  In addition, a 2005 meta-analysis of 56 health promotion programs at organizations of all sizes resulted in an overall reduction of 26.8 percent in sick leave costs3.

#4 Increased Productivity (i.e. Reduced “Presenteeism”)

The main goal of a workplace wellness program is to encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles. Being healthy increases concentration, energy levels and hence, productivity. In fact, workplace health promotion represents one of the most significant strategies for enhancing the productivity of workers at a time when their average age is increasing4.  If you can believe it, health -related productivity costs are far greater than medical and pharmacy costs alone (on average 2.3 to 1)5. It has been calculated that each year, loss of worker productivity costs U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually1.

#5 Increased Job Satisfaction

Lower medical costs attributed to investing in a workplace wellness program are just the tip of the iceberg. Employees in self-rated healthier work environments have significantly (p < 0.01) higher job satisfaction, commitment and morale, and lower absenteeism and intent to quit6.

#6 Enhanced Recruitment & Retention

In the midst of a tight labor market, workplace wellness programs can be a vital tool to draw and retain new recruits7.

#7 Increased Employee Awareness of Health Issues

Health Risk Assessments (HRA) commonly used by workplace wellness programs provide employees with important feedback regarding their health. Often this is the first time employees are made aware of the hazards their current lifestyle choices and inspires employees to take initiatives to improve their own health by voluntarily participating in the workplace wellness program. Most importantly, HRAs provide the opportunity to diagnose health conditions before they manifest into chronic and expensive disorders.

#8. Decreased Worker Injuries

Improving the overall fitness of employees can reduce work-related injuries. In fact, researchers claim that implementing a health and wellness program can produce a 300 to 600 percent ROI by reducing worker injuries and workers’ compensation payments8.

#9 Decreased Health Insurance Costs

The fewer sick and injured employees you have making insurance claims, the lower your health care costs, including insurance premiums. This simple case for workplace wellness become more compelling as premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance continue to rise, from $5,791 in 1999 to $13,375 in 2009 (a 131% increase), with the amount paid by workers rising by 128%9.

#10 Better Employee Health

Last but not least, workplace wellness programs improve employee health, enabling them to lead a better quality of life. For instance, HRAs and medical screenings help diagnose problems and allow nipping diseases and disorders in the bud, fitness and exercise programs help preempt diseases, health education raises awareness on how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, and behavior modification programs help curtail tobacco use or attain weight control.
Success is achieved when workers are made aware of the program, participate actively and willingly in it, are given the tools and resources to change their behaviors, and are situated in a workplace environment that supports healthy lifestyles. Get to work, get your employees healthy and relish in these benefits today!


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Comprehensive Workplace Health Programs to Address Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Tobacco Use in the Workplace http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/nhwp/index.html
2. Baicker K, David C, and Zirui S, “Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings,” Health Affairs 29, no. 2 (2010): 304-11
3. Chapman LS (2005). Meta-evaluation of worksite health promotion economic return studies: 2005 update. The Art of Health Promotion; 19:1-14.
4. Carol Cancelliere, J David Cassidy, Carlo Ammendolia and Pierre Côté(2011). Are workplace health promotion programs effective at improving presenteeism in workers? a systematic review and best evidence synthesis of the literature. BMC Public Health; 11:395
5. Loeppke R, Taitel M, Haufle V, Parry T, Kessler RC, & Jinnett K (2009). Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: A Multiemployer Study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; 51: 411–428
6. Lowe GS, Schellenberg G and Shannon HS (2003). Correlates of employees’ perceptions of a healthy work environment. American Journal of Health Promotion;17(6):390-9.
7. National Small Business Association (2012). WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS IN SMALL BUSINESS: IMPACTING THE BOTTOM LINE. http://www.nsba.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/wellness-survey-v3.pdf
8. Research Services (2011). Reducing Injuries with a Workplace Wellness Program.http://www.dot.state.mn.us/research/TS/2011/201107TS.pdf
9. The Kaiser Family Foundation-and-Health Research & Education Trust (2009). Summary Findings Employer Health Benefits. Retrieved from http://ehbs.kff.org/pdf/2009/7937.pdf