How to Inspire Employee Health with Office Wellness Programs

Posted On: February 15, 2023

2023 is off to a good start, but as with the beginning of any year, now is the time when most people are focused on New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions vary by person but often center around money and health. For that reason, you can better encourage your employees with the help of an employee health and office wellness program.

Since the COVID pandemic, more employers are embracing office wellness programs, but it’s no longer just for general health. Employers also include mental and financial health options, flexible working arrangements, increased work-life balance options, and more. 

Additionally, comprehensive wellness programs offer the most return on investment, with employers seeing more employee engagement in their wellness programs. So, are wellness programs really worth the investment? You must know here before deciding on a program for your business.


How Much Value Do Office Wellness Programs Offer Employers?

We understand how difficult and disruptive excessive sick time can be to a business of any size, but even more so for smaller companies with fewer employees and resources to pick up the extra workload left by absent employees. So, to better understand the value of office wellness programs, let’s look at absenteeism.


Absenteeism by the Numbers

Healthier employees report fewer sick days, but because your employee is healthier doesn’t mean they might not take a sick day for other reasons.

In 2021, of more than 25 thousand Americans surveyed, 15% reported missing an average of two to three days annually. Another 11% reported missing four to five days a year, and 5% reported missing more than 20 days.

That’s quite a range! And you can’t control when you’ll become ill and must recuperate at home. And it’s not just for physical illness. More Americans are living with mental health and substance abuse disorders. Mental Health America estimated about 50 million Americans were living with mental health issues last year alone. 


Physical vs. Mental Illness Impacting Sick Days

Employees living with mental health concerns face challenges that are not always as obvious as those with physical health concerns. For example, it’s one thing to have the flu with physical symptoms and quite another to face anxiety or depression. 

In many states, getting care is challenging. Many states face a greater need for help than mental health practitioners available, which compounds the challenges employees and employers face.

Regardless of your employee’s reason for illness, providing an employee wellness program that benefits all give you happier, more productive employees. It also results in fewer sick days and lost time.

A comprehensive office wellness program offers your company the best solution with a higher investment return. So, let’s go over cost expectations next.


Employee Wellness Program Costs

Like many other things in business, the cost of an office wellness program depends on what options you want to include. Remember, a comprehensive program will gain you a much better ROI with greater employee engagement. However, even a basic but well-thought-out wellness program is better than none.

However, before deciding, here’s a glimpse of what you might expect from a comprehensive wellness program.

  • Health risk appraisal
  • Incentives and rewards
  • Culture change
  • Behavior changes campaigns and challenges
  • Annual biometric screening
  • Individual health and financial coaching
  • Work-life balance options

Cost varies considerably according to how much you want to offer and ranges between $150 and $1,200 per employee per year.

The most expensive parts of any office wellness program are:

  • Biometric screening ($40-$75 per employee)
  • Health coaching ($140-$165 per employee)
  • Benefits-based incentives ($200-$800 per employee)

The more comprehensive your wellness program, the greater the investment you can expect.


A Word of Caution

Benefits-based incentive plans might not make financial sense for smaller employers. Instead, it might be better to consider other rewards and incentives for program engagement. However, do your homework, plan, and budget wisely because more money spent on incentives and rewards only sometimes equals a great ROI or participation.

So, one of the goals of office wellness programs is to get your employees started with healthier habits, improve overall health, and reduce burnout and stress. 


Tips to Start an Employee Wellness Program on a Budget

  • Assess your current needs and budget.
  • Determine your program and company goals.
  • Determine the level of interest among employees.
  • Determine employee needs.
  • Decide which wellness options make sense for your office.
  • Track participation, program engagement, and impact to gauge success.
  • Remember, you can always adjust things that aren’t working as you go.


The Final Word

Office wellness programs are essential to every business, but they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg

While comprehensive programs work best and produce the best outcomes and return on investment, you can start small and grow your program offerings as you go. So, offer enough options and incentives to boost employee engagement and realize ROI without overstretching your budget. Remember your goals and adjust your office wellness program as you go.