Although interest in workplace wellness programmes has risen as employers and insurance companies battle rapidly rising health care costs, a study by Maritz found that such programmes can also benefit companies by producing more loyal and engaged employees.
The study found that employee wellness programmes are connected with well-being, beyond employee health.
In fact, employees at companies offering wellness programmes tend to be significantly more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to remain with the company in the long term, and more likely to recommend the company as an employer to a friend or family member.
Even the people who only occasionally participate in a wellness programme were found to be significantly higher in terms of measures of employee engagement than those who never participate.
One out of five employees (20%) who at least occasionally participate in a wellness programme said they were satisfied with their job, compared to 13% who never participate in such a programme. A similar difference was noted among participants and non-participants when asked if they were happy to spend the rest of their career with their present company (27% and 18% respectively).
In the same way, employee loyalty and personal recommendation were higher among those who participate in a wellness programme, compared to those who don't (32% and 21% respectively).
According to Mindy McGrath, vice president of strategy for Maritz, "We hypothesise that employees who participate in wellness programmes may see them as a life-saver as well, which may give them a heightened perception of their companies care about their personal well-being, making them feel better about their workplace."
According to the study, nearly one-quarter (23%) of the employees surveyed participated in a wellness programme at least once a week when offered a reward or incentive for achieving specific health goals. However, the participation rate declined to only 16% when no incentive was offered. Similarly, complete non-participation reached 36% when no reward was offered (dropping to only 21% when an incentive was offered).
"These programmes clearly benefit both employees and employers," concluded McGrath. "They are associated with better individual health, productivity and engagement, all of which lead to reductions in lost working time and health care premiums. However, these programmes are of little value to either side if employees don't have a reason to participate."