4 Keys to Workplace Well-Being Programs

woman meditating at work

A report published by Cigna International Markets and Asia Care Group provides insight into the positive impact of employee wellness programs. The report, titled "Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What Works? - ROI analysis of Health and Wellness Interventions," revealed the following four findings:

1. Wellness Programs Reduce Health Care Costs

The report notes that when properly designed and implemented, most wellness programs yield positive returns by reducing health care costs and absenteeism while boosting productivity. The most successful ones are those that have been carefully selected to tackle specific issues. The report recommends that employers review employee data from health screenings or self-reported health assessments to identify  specific underlying drivers of ill-health or poor well-being, as a way to inform the design of a targeted wellness program.

2. Mental Health Interventions Are Most Impactful

The report identified that mental health interventions yielded high returns, and included programs such as stress management coaching, work-life balance training and meditation classes. But the most impactful programs included professional counseling sessions and well-being support like online coaching.

3. Management Support Boosts Success 

Programs with middle management support averaged an ROI of 10 times the initial investment, because individuals have the highest level of direct team management within most organizations. Therefore, to help inspire health and wellness across an organization, middle management should be central to program design and implementation.

Related: How to Encourage Workplace Wellness

"Companies should identify wellness champions from middle management that possess the passion and influence to motivate employees. These people will help ensure the success of wellness efforts by socially connecting with employees and helping to educate colleagues about the programs on offer and their benefits," said Dr. Dawn Soo, regional medical officer and head of wellness, Asia Pacific, Cigna.

4. Even Limited Investment Pays Off

The report highlights that a comprehensive wellness program can be developed with a low level of investment and still yield high returns—if it's well designed and properly supported. In fact, of the 90 wellness programs that were analyzed for the report, low investment programs (less than $100 per person per year) experienced an ROI of 13.2 times, compared to 3.2 times for moderate investments and 3.0 times for high ones (more than $200 per person per year). 

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