Employees participating in a workplace wellness program.

Workplace Wellness Programs: An Overview

There are many reasons why employers across the nation are implementing workplace wellness programs.They can reduce sick leave, decrease workers’ compensation insurance costs and increase productivity. Plus, people who work for organizations that provide wellness programs tend to have higher job satisfaction rates and stay with the company longer (which will save you money on recruiting and training new employees)!

Why Should Employers Provide Workplace Wellness Programs?

By providing your employees with the tools needed for a healthier and more productive life, you’re ensuring that they’ll be set up for success.

  • They’ll be more engaged in their job during the workday.
  • They’ll be less likely to get sick, which means fewer sick days used and more efficiency for your company.
  • They’ll be more loyal, because your team members will feel valued. This helps with employee retention and attracts new prospects looking for an environment that values the employees’ well-being.

Who Should be Involved in a Workplace Wellness Program?

It takes all parts of the company for a corporate wellness program to work!

  • Employees: The employees are the main target of a workplace wellness program, since they’re the ones receiving the health benefits and incentives. You can offer a variety of services, from medical screenings and flu shots to gym memberships! Smoking cessation programs are also beneficial in reducing tobacco use in the work environment and improving overall workplace health. Talk to your staff to see which interventions they’re most interested in.
  • Managers: Managers can support their employees’ health-related decisions by talking to their staff about how a worksite wellness program will positively impact each team member’s life and wellbeing. It’s also important that managers encourage staff participation in wellness activities so that everyone stays motivated. Many organizations implement interdepartmental competitions to make the program more fun and competitive.
  • Human Resources: Human resources professionals need to know what types of programs are available so that they can advise other departments within the organization. For example, HR can let managers/staff know that free flu shots are offered, or be the go-to resource for questions about additional benefits (like discounted gym memberships).

How Do Employers Design, Develop and Implement Workplace Wellness Programs?

Employers should consider the specific needs of their company and employees when designing a workplace wellness program. For example, if your business is based in an urban area, you may want to focus on programs that help employees manage stress. If most of your staff works remotely, you might offer online health coaching or meditation classes.

Some companies ask employees to be involved in the design process so that they feel invested in their own well-being and that they understand how to use the tools provided.

What Financial Issues Should Employers Consider When Implementing a Workplace Wellness Program?

As you begin to implement a workplace wellness program, there are a few financial issues you will want to consider.

  • The average cost of healthcare is around $10,000 per employee per year, and that’s not including dental or vision care costs! Workplace wellness programs can help control healthcare costs by keeping healthy employees in the low-risk category and improving the health of individuals who are considered high-risk.
  • Absenteeism means lost productivity and higher costs for overtime pay. Be sure to review the average number of days used for sick time or injury.
  • Health insurance premiums have grown at an average rate of 9% over the last 15 years. If your company offers benefits like life insurance and disability insurance, then those premiums are also likely to increase. Take a look at the costs your business has incurred over the years when it comes to health benefits.

What Should a Workplace Wellness Program Include?

Your company can work to design a program with wellness initiatives that meet your company’s unique needs and goals. It’s simple enough to order healthy food more often, or fill the vending machines with healthy snacks, but promoting good health behaviors needs to encompass many aspects.

Wellness programs can include a variety of activities, such as health screenings and health education classes. These activities can be tailored to meet different employee needs, including chronic diseases or mental health issues. For example, a program might provide cholesterol screenings or offer diabetes risk assessments. You can also consider biometric testing, training sessions or health coaching.

Beyond Physical: Other Healthy Behaviors

The idea of “wellness” goes beyond just healthy eating and getting enough physical activity. Healthy living involves other factors like making good financial decisions. Consider promoting wellness programs that teach proper financial decision-making for both the short-term and the long-term. This can help reduce stress in the workplace by helping employees feel more financially secure.

The goal of these initiatives is to improve an employee’s health by helping them make changes in behavior and steer them toward a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle.

How Can Employers Measure the Success of Their Workplace Wellness Programs?

Employers can gauge the impact of their health programs by reviewing certain factors in order to see if work-related health promotion programs are having a positive effect:

Employee Engagement

Do employees feel like they’re part of a team? Has employee morale improved? Are they engaged with their work and the company, or are they unhappy with their jobs and feeling disengaged?

Employee Health

How healthy are the workers in your workforce? Are there health risks that are still affecting your business (such as obesity, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels)? Is an employee’s age affecting their ability to perform well on the job?


Is absenteeism decreasing? If so, how much less are you spending in lost productivity each year?

Health Insurance Costs

Are healthcare costs reduced or staying the same instead of increasing? And if so, how much savings have been realized by offering workplace wellness programs as opposed to providing comprehensive coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan alone?

Workplace Wellness Programs are an Important Part of Encouraging Your Employees to Live Healthier Lives.

A great deal of money can be saved on healthcare costs by offering a workplace wellness program.

  • Your employees can save money on healthcare costs because they aren’t making as many co-pays or meeting high deductibles.
  • Your business can cut down on absenteeism, which increases efficiency and saves money.
  • Employees are likely to become more productive at work, which means less turnover and better outcomes.

Promote A Healthy Company Culture

With all the benefits that workplace wellness programs bring to employees and employers, more and more businesses are investing in these types of proactive options. With proper planning and communication, you can implement a successful workplace wellness program that will result in happier, healthier employees—and therefore a happier, healthier workplace!

Looking to set up a workplace wellness program at your business? Then contact the professional wellness experts at Meridian HealthCare. Our occupational health division specializes in designing programs that keep your employees healthy and productive. They can be customized for any facility or industry, and we also perform drug and alcohol testing and DOT physicals.

Call today to speak to our occupational services staff and get started.