Pros and Cons of Corporate Wellness Programs: What the Statistics Say


Work isn’t just for work anymore. As a 2017 survey by UnitedHealthcare found, 70 percent of companies now offer on-site wellness programs for their employees—a figure that is continuing to climb steadily. On one hand this increase is to reduce healthcare costs, since healthier employees means lowered costs. But wellness programs are fast becoming less of a perk than a requirement as workers increasingly expect more out of the workplace.

With so many options, it’s always a good idea to consider the pros and cons of implementing an employee wellness program in your organization.


Con: Unengaged Employees Are Less Likely to Enroll

If healthy employees stay healthy and sick employees stay sick, you haven’t made a lot of progress. This is what often happens when organizations bring in the No. 1 requested benefit: on-site fitness centers. Studies tend to show that people who are not physically active see gyms as intimidating. There’s even a word for it: “gymtimidation.” One study of 2,000 Americans found that as many as half feel the idea of working out around other people to be “daunting,” what with the sheer amount of machines and classes available. Thirty-one percent simply felt anxious about the prospect of getting into shape. Now imagine working out in front of your coworkers… not exactly a fun idea.

The goal of any corporate wellness program is to bring unengaged employees into the fold. A study by Gallup found that 62 percent of engaged employees feel their work positively affects their health. On the flip side, the same poll found that barely 22 percent of actively disengaged employees feel the same way. If only your engaged employees participate in a wellness program, you start to see a vicious cycle.

It takes a lot more than a free gym membership to help your workers stay healthy and engaged. If your wellness program caters only to one portion of your organization, it is failing. This is how Woliba is differently than your typical corporate wellness program, which often amounts to little more than a discounted gym membership. On average, our clients achieve more than 80 percent enrollment, thanks to features like in-depth implementation, automated push notifications, daily tips and quotes, gamification and other social features, wellness committee tools, and customizable monthly themes and events.


Pro: Enrolled Employees Are Happier and Healthier

According to a study by Aflac, 70 percent of employees enrolled in wellness programs report higher job satisfaction than those not enrolled. They’re also healthier too, according to United Healthcare, with 56 percent of employees participating in wellness programs taking fewer sick days and 62 percent saying they helped lower their personal healthcare costs. As far as mental health is concerned, 48 percent of employees report that company-sponsored training has helped them the most to manage stress, according to Udemy.

The best wellness programs work because they don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. With Woliba, every user takes a personalized risk assessment that pinpoints areas of concern, from smoking cessation to weight loss to building an exercise program. With vast multimedia libraries helping users with everything from daytime and nighttime stretches to yoga to weight training, employees can choose the wellness paths they want to explore, ensuring high levels of engagement. Whether you want to learn delicious and healthy dinner recipes, learn a new fitness routine, find a new workout partner, or simply keep track of your daily steps, a wellness platform like Woliba is your first and only stop.


Con: Wellness Programs Can Be Expensive

While large companies have no problem absorbing the costs of wellness programs, it can be difficult for small and mid-sized organizations with under 1,000 employees. That’s why 51 percent of HR professionals see budget as the No. 1 hurdle to getting a wellness program started.

The good news is that wellness programs do not have to be expensive. Woliba pricing begins at just $4 per enrolled user, per month, and includes features like group and personal challenges, fitness device integration, daily health pro tips, tailored wellness adventures, personalized education, and wellness videos. We also offer special pricing for qualified nonprofits and educational institutions, so organizations of all stripes can help get their employees on the road to good health.


Pro: Wellness Programs Lower Costs All-Around

It’s a simple fact: When employees are healthier, your organization saves money. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 60 percent of companies report that workplace wellness programs reduced their organization’s overall healthcare costs, with well-designed wellness programs like Woliba leading to a return on investment (ROI) of $1.50 to $3.00 per dollar spent over a timeframe of two to nine years. As the Indiana State Department of Health noted, for every dollar spent on wellness programs, a company saves $5.82 on average in lower employee absenteeism costs.

The savings don’t stop with healthcare. Aflac reported that for a quarter of employers, the top goal of wellness programs was increased productivity. Indeed, 63 percent of employers offering such programs reported increased financial sustainability and growth, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. All told, says Sun Life, companies with highly effective health and wellness plans are 40 percent more likely to report better financial performance.


Con: Managing Wellness Programs Can Be Time Consuming

For many companies and nonprofits, managing wellness programs is a full-time job. From software bugs to confusing interfaces to disorganized workplace integration, too many HR departments are finding corporate wellness programs add stress to the workplace instead of taking it away.

Fortunately, this isn’t always the case. Woliba has revolutionized wellness administration by introducing software with three key components:

  • Company Dashboard: HR departments can oversee employee engagement, activity, and wellness data at a glance. Instead of having to pull data from a dozen different databases, the Woliba dashboard provides all the information you need in one accessible location.
  • Easy-to-Organize Efforts: Interact with employees on the social feed to create organization-wide events and challenges. Scheduling events is simple and painless with our built-in calendar integration.
  • Seamless Automation: Stop wasting time manually typing out organization-wide emails. Woliba automatically schedules and sends reminder emails to engage employees.

Pro: Corporate Wellness Builds Comradery and Increases Employee Retention

According to Hub International, employee morale is cited as the most improved (54 per cent) metric from implementing wellness plans. In fact, employee retention is often cited as the top metric by which organizations measure the effectiveness of their employee wellness programs. Indeed, according to a survey by Optum, the more engaged an employee is with a wellness program, the more likely he or she is to stay with the company. Overall, 48 percent of employees that always or frequently participate in wellness programs are likely to recommend their employer to others compared to 30 percent and 29 percent for employees that occasionally and never participate, respectively.

Features like company challenges and rewards keep employees motivated while building comradery. In fact, 86 percent of Woliba users say that company challenges are their most loved feature. In a time when millions of employees are working from home, it’s more important than ever to foster togetherness with company-wide wellness challenges. With Woliba’s simple management features, you can quickly and easily create company-wide challenges, events, and wellbeing initiatives.

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