Do Wellness Programs Work?
15 August 2017 • Written by Marion King
Do yoga sessions, communal fruit bowls, gym memberships and the like really lead to happier, healthier and therefore higher performing employees? The answer is yes… and no.
Wellness initiatives are becoming commonplace in Australia, as organisations investigate what works and what doesn’t and grapple with identifying the often difficult to determine, return on their investment.
Data is available on the cost of ignoring employee health care costs. According to the ABC article Workplace Wellness Programs: Do they work?The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, while presenteeism — defined as not fully functioning at work because of a medical condition — was recently estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year.
The cost of work-related injury, and illness to the Australian economy is estimated to be $57.5 billion, according to,6 Workplace Wellbeing ideas that won't cost your NFP a cent of which employers pay over $10 billion.
The question then needs to be asked, can organisations really afford to ignore Wellness Programs even from an economic perspective?
Figures in return on investment vary. According to the same article, average rate of return has been indicated in studies to be between 2;1 and 5;1 for every dollar spent.
Economics aside, many organisations are realising that ensuring the workplace is safe and individualised wellness programs are in place, developed in consultation with staff, can have very positive results, increasing employee health and happiness and a sense of self-worth, as it’s recognised that the organisation has a strong commitment to their employees.
It must, however, be driven from the top.
There is strong evidence that the introduction of ill-conceived piece-meal approaches fail. What is needed is a strong commitment from leadership for a purposeful and well-planned holistic approach.
The Wellness Program must also consider and respect the needs of employees. Not everyone loves yoga, or running marathons. It’s only by understanding and appreciating staff needs that Wellness Programs will be effective. Mental health considerations, need also to be embedded into the program, so that an employee needing psychological assistance, has access to these facilities within the organisation.
The outcome is a win-win for both employees and the organisation. It’s more than just a Wellness Program. Employees feel valued and empowered and as a result, are likely to be more motivated to contribute to organisational success.
There are a wide variety of Wellness Programs, which are now very much part of the Australian employment landscape.