Healthy employees benefit the bottom line

Healthy employees and reduced benefits payouts are not the only positive from corporate wellness programs

A successful corporate wellness program can save a company much more than it costs and create a supportive and healthy work culture. Extended health benefits cost companies anywhere from 40-60% of their total labour costs, which average 33% nationally on top of wages. For a grocery chain which employs a significant labour pool, we’re talking about a huge effect on the bottom line!

Organizations such as Canada Life, Dupont, Prudential Insurance and Citibank report positive ROI in the range of $2 to $6.85 savings for each $1 invested in employee wellness. So financially, it just makes sense. But how does a company get started?

Employee Wellness programs fall under the Human Resources department of most organizations and can involve numerous components. The most successful ones have employee participation levels of greater than 60% and often use financial incentives and positive peer pressure, like competition between stores.

Financial incentives need to be linked to specific outcomes in order to measure the ROI. For example, one grocery chain in the U.S. offers employees a savings of $2,500 per year for the employee and their spouse simply enrolling in the program and documenting the following:

1. Having a family doctor.

2. Measured key health parameters like weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar.

3. Participation in a program that educates on how to improve any parameters outside of the healthy range, like a weight loss club or diabetes education classes.

Retail dietitians are a fantastic resource for helping to reduce extended health and benefits payouts through nutrition and lifestyle interventions. Whether through employee nutrition tours, weight loss clubs or management of health parameter testing and program development, dietitians are natural leaders. However, it’s also essential to have management participation in any corporate wellness program—a top-down trickle effect for a culture focused on health.

Of course healthy employees and reduced benefits payouts are not the only positive—many organizations receive great PR for such initiatives. Whether it’s increasing ranking on the list of “Best Canadian Employers” or a local media story on how much weight was lost by employees of one store over another, the value of this type of exposure is large yet relatively undefinable.

Whether the motivation is decreased sick days and lower benefits payouts or happier employees who feel that their health is supported by their employer, a corporate wellness program simply makes sense.