Employee Wellness: What is Your Trigger?

Why is it that one company invests more than $2,000 annually per employee in wellness, yet an employer in the same office complex balks at spending $60 for their employees?

While the gap between employers offering a wellness program and those who do not is shrinking, we must ask “Why?” As more employers embrace wellness, what is motivating them to commit time and financial resources to these efforts? Below are four common triggers leading employers to embrace employee wellness

  1. I Love You.

For organizations whose leaders who have an above-average intrinsic concern for their employees, wellness is not a program but a natural expression of their love for their employees. For these employers, care trumps costs: it is a moral obligation.

Here, physical wellness is a part of a “whole” that includes social, community, mental, and financial wellbeing. Preventive care is coupled with community involvement, volunteering, personal development, and fair organizational policies and practices. Without sacrificing smart business decisions, they implement wellness with the bonus that healthy and happy employees are more likely to be productive, contribute to a positive work culture, and have fewer health claims.

  1. Let’s Enjoy the Spotlight.

“I want our company to land on the Healthiest Employers list next year,” remarked one CEO. “That award could bolster our brand and give us some positive news to share. I’d love to see that award on our web site.”  This CEO knew one of the benefits of a robust wellness program is positive press and she wanted it for her company!

There is certainly nothing wrong with desiring to win awards and receiving the accompanying accolades, especially when they motivate us to elevate the work culture and improve the lives of our employees. Whether that means aiming for a Healthiest Employer or Best Places to Work award, both the employer and the employees win when employee wellness is implemented to bolster their PR.

  1. Help Wanted.

It is not uncommon for an employee wellness program to be birthed out of a business strategy to attract and retain talent. In our present economy, with record unemployment and frenzied battles for the best talent, employee wellness could be the tipping point for retaining and attracting talent. This explains why so many employer career webpages will include – among the recitations about core values, sustainability, paid paternal leave, and corporate social responsibility – their commitment to employee wellbeing.

For employees already inclined toward healthy lifestyles, employee wellness matters. For other employees who struggle with eating healthy and staying fit, a wellness program with strong incentives tied to healthy activity can also be an attractive perk. Whether it’s the opportunity to win an Apple Watch, a new pair of running shoes, gift cards, or earn a reduction in their health insurance contributions, these perks make an employer more attractive to both current and prospective employees.

  1. Money Ball.

Employee wellness can also be a business strategy to fight soaring healthcare costs. CFOs and CEOs tend to evaluate wellness initiatives on the ROI, seeking solutions aimed at slashing wasteful healthcare spend. Wellness programs that attack these costs go well beyond culture building and team challenges. These programs are data-driven and coupled with effective health coaching, disease and condition management, and case management.

Employers who self-fund their medical plans are the employers most likely to be motivated to adopt employee wellness as a means of reducing healthcare costs. With the help of strategic partners, they implement programs designed to prevent healthcare issues within their population by helping the healthy stay healthy. Furthermore, by using data, they can target prospective risks and intervene to mitigate those risks.


Jack W. Bruce, SPHR

Director of Population Health & Wellbeing

Jack Bruce

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