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April 27, 2012 / mike54martin

The Success of Workplace Wellness

Modern workplace wellness programs are a success by any standard you wish to measure. And now we have the data to prove it. First of all a little history lesson. The evolution of workplace wellness came about as a result of a number of factors. First of all research began to confirm that poor lifestyle choices like physical inactivity, poor diet, and tobacco smoking were direct factors in most chronic illnesses and diseases.

Secondly as the level of stress increased in society and the workplace, the costs of providing employee benefits like prescription drugs to treat mental illness and depression were skyrocketing. Thirdly employers began to realize that they were losing valuable time and productivity that was directly related to their employee’s health. It just made good business and economic sense to invest in their employee’s health and so the workplace wellness boom began.

Now that we are about twenty years into the modern version of workplace wellness there is no doubt that they work. Research shows that workplace wellness programs are having a real and tangible impact on not only the health of the workers involved but on the companies who made the investments bottom line. Workplace wellness programs have been proven to deliver returns to employers of anywhere from $2.00 to $10.00 for every dollar spent.

These returns have come in the form of increased productivity, reduced sick time and absenteeism, lower costs to provide employee health benefits, and reduced Workers Compensation claims.

There are lots of examples to prove the point including:


  • Canada Life Insurance which reported a return of $3.43 on their fitness program, and an overall return on investment of $6.85 on each corporate dollar invested in productivity gains, reduced turnover and decreased medical claims.
  • In Toronto civic employees who participated in the “Metro Fit” fitness programs missed 3.35 fewer days in the first six months of the program than employees not enrolled in the program.
  • And in British Columbia B.C Hydro employees who participated in their workplace fitness program had a turnover rate of just 3.5% compared with a company average of 10.3%. Workplace wellness programs deliver results for both the employer and the employee.

Employers benefit from workplace wellness programs by reducing the costs of disability claims, prescription drugs, and absenteeism. They also benefit by improving morale which leads to happier and more productive employees. In addition these programs help reduce the stress in the workplace and make it easier for employers to attract and retain their employees. Employees who participate in wellness activities in the workplace attain some improvement in their overall health and many report greater job satisfaction and improved morale. They are also less likely to be injured at work and are able to reduce their personal health costs.

Workplace wellness programs are alive and thriving because they work for both employees and the employer. They are an undeniable success!!

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant.

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