Engagement, retention, and more: Benefits of employee wellness programs

It seems that the workforce won’t be going to their old ways when job stability and titles were valued more than work-life balance, great compensation packages, and an overall healthy work environment. A Statista report claims the Great Resignation isn’t over yet—in November 2022, there were over 46 million Americans in total who quit their jobs since this trend started.  

This mass voluntary quitting made many companies go into panic mode. How do they keep their talent? With HR budgets increasingly being redirected toward employee retention instead of talent acquisition, one employee perk emerged as particularly efficient: employee wellness programs.


Here, we’re sharing the top benefits of implementing employee wellbeing initiatives and tested and tried tips on how to make them a part of your company culture.


5 Benefits of corporate wellness programs


The value of the global corporate wellness market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.0% by 2028, which shows that there’s a growing awareness of how important it is for employers to invest in employee health, especially in fostering healthy habits and prevention of illnesses.


Here are the main benefits of introducing a wellness plan to help your workforce maintain mental and physical health.


1. Reduced healthcare costs


A good wellness program can help a company save money on healthcare, as employees who engage in wellness activities manage their chronic illnesses more easily and are more successful in preventing different health issues.


In 2020, US employers spent around $2,000 more on healthcare per employee per year compared to 2015. Although remote work is generally considered a benefit, it’s increased some health risks for remote employees worldwide, with some of the main culprits being lack of mobility, workplace stress, and unhealthy eating habits.


However, most research corroborates the assumption that wellness programs can help with cost savings in employee healthcare going up to $580k-$1.5m. Not only do employees take fewer sick days thanks to being encouraged to engage in healthy behaviors, like smoking cessation, healthy eating, or daily physical activity, but they’re also more successful in disease management and prevention. Health screenings allow them to catch potential issues early on or manage them more easily due to support from the employer and co-workers.


2. Less absenteeism


Employee wellness programs and an overall culture of health help reduce absenteeism because employees take sick days and miss work for other reasons less often.


Employee wellness programs can reduce absenteeism with:


  • Preventive care and early intervention and management of health conditions
  • Creating a healthy work environment
  • Boosted employee morale and motivation
  • Improved employee engagement and job satisfaction


All of the above can contribute to decreasing health risk factors that cause employee absenteeism and have a positive impact on the overall atmosphere in the company.


Seeing their workplace as a key factor in maintaining their health, employees may become more likely to achieve the greatly desired work-life balance. This fact is critical, bearing in mind that today more people are interested in reaching this balance than having a sky-high salary.


3. Increased employee retention


Employee wellbeing initiatives help employers retain more employees for a longer time, reducing employee turnover rates and increasing job satisfaction.


Workplace stress is still pretty high, reaching the same level as during the peak COVID-19 year. It has a negative impact on employee health (like neck pain and eye strain), it’s also well-known that employees who feel under pressure and burn out tend to quit their jobs. In fact, 1 in 5 workers is likely to do so.


This decreases employee retention rates and increases workforce management costs, as recruiters and managers need to find a replacement (quickly) to avoid declining team productivity.


Wellness programs can help employees manage stress better throughout their workday, achieve a better work-life balance, and maintain their physical and emotional health, leading to increased job satisfaction. These initiatives can also offer employees greater flexibility and autonomy in their health and well-being, making them feel valued and empowered, reinforcing the company's values, and contributing to a sense of belonging among employees.


4. Better physical and mental health


Employees who participate in corporate wellness programs have better physical and mental health, which allows them to perform better, contribute to positive company culture, and be happier in the workplace.


The reduced amount of physical activity and loneliness when working from home have taken their toll on overall employee well-being and contributed to many chronic diseases and mental health issues:


  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Eye strain and vision deterioration
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Higher glucose and cholesterol levels
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Trouble sleeping and concentrating
  • Decreased motivation


A company called TotalWellness even pays employees to exercise during their working hours, and the response from their workers has always been positive. These wellness activities, including group exercise classes, help their employees establish better social connections, be more productive, reduce stress, manage their weight, have more energy, improve heart health, boost their immune system, and more.


5. Higher motivation and employee productivity


Wellness programs helping employees maintain good health also help maintain the required productivity levels and employee morale.


The direct impact of workplace wellness programs can be seen through lower health insurance costs, but there’s another way to measure the ROI of your employee well-being initiatives: through employee productivity. Data shows 38% of participants in a wellness program said they’ve been taking fewer sick days since they started implementing health behaviors supported by their company.


This helps teams maintain their productivity levels because two critical points are avoided:


  • The time a temporary worker covering for the sick employee needs to settle into the team
  • The time the sick employee needs to catch up on their work after the leave


When team productivity is maintained consistently over time, it contributes to higher company profitability: healthy employees are more likely to approach work with more creativity, enthusiasm, and positivity, which helps them achieve better results.


How to build a culture of health with wellness initiatives and incentives


It’s important to understand how your company can benefit from implementing wellness initiatives before you dive into planning your own program. The ROI may not be obvious on the very first day, but it’s undeniable - it may go up to $3.80 per every dollar invested.


Here’s how you can create a comprehensive wellness program for your distributed workforce.


  • Assess your employees’ needs: Use surveys and one-on-one meetings to determine what kind of wellness activities your team would gladly participate in.
  • Analyze your current situation: Set up an initial biometric screening for the team and collect absenteeism data and data from insurance claims to analyze the current state of employee health in your organization.
  • Review successful programs at similar organizations: What kind of wellness programs are companies similar to yours running? Make sure you compare by industry, size, and team distribution - if you have a global workforce, strategies that work for local teams may not apply.
  • Set specific, measurable goals: For each wellness challenge you organize, there should be specific, measurable goals so that you know if you’re on the right track. For example, these goals can be based on the percentage of employees you want to engage in wellness activities or the final outcome you want to achieve.
  • Align the wellness program with company values and culture: Ensure that the goals of the wellness program reflect the company's priorities for employee health and well-being. Integrate wellness activities into the company's daily routines and make them a regular part of the company's culture, like offering healthy snacks when meeting up at a co-working space, having a Slack channel dedicated to wellness chats, or holding online or on-site monthly wellness events.
  • Ensure program diversity: Some employees won’t enjoy a gym membership, but they’ll love outdoor activities or dance. Others would benefit more from counseling or mindfulness sessions. Offering a diverse wellness program will ensure inclusion, and everyone will be able to find an activity they enjoy. Also, make sure that the wellness program is easy for employees to participate in and that it fits into their busy schedules.
  • Conduct regular assessments to ensure success: It takes at least several weeks to see or feel the first results of your employee wellness program. Establish an assessment system to evaluate your program each month or quarter and ensure all activities are still generating employee satisfaction and contributing to your goals.
  • Encourage employee engagement and feedback: Regularly ask your employees for feedback on your wellness program and listen for any shifts in priorities. Encourage employees to participate in the program by promoting it through company communications, such as emails and meetings. Provide incentives such as gift cards or time off to employees who participate in the wellness program and acknowledge their efforts to improve their health.


Build a flexible, inclusive wellness program for a healthy team


Healthy employees are happy, and happy employees enjoy their job and achieve outstanding results. Employee wellness programs are an excellent way to create a happy team and a great company culture, encouraging work-life balance and building a workplace that talent will want to join.


Gable can help you make up for the lack of social interactions and create an amazing opportunity for your team to reconnect. We help you find, book, and manage remote, flexible workspaces where your distributed workforce can meet up and get creative together. Enjoy an incredible boost in employee satisfaction rate (while seeing a reduction in real estate costs you can’t ignore).


Read more about how Gable helps companies enable their teams to do their best work - together.


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Andrea Rajic