Employee wellness programmes have often been viewed as a nice extra, not a strategic imperative. But new data demonstrate otherwise.
New research shows that the return on investment on comprehensive, well-run employee wellness programmes is impressive - sometimes as high as six to one. The findings were published in the Harvard Business Review.
To achieve those kinds of results, employers cannot merely offer workers a few passes to a fitness centre and nutrition information in the cafeteria, the team reports. The most successful wellness programmes are supported by six essential pillars: engaged leadership at multiple levels; strategic alignment with the company's identity and aspirations; a design that is broad in scope and high in relevance and quality; broad accessibility; internal and external partnerships; and effective communications, the lead researcher Leonard L. Berry says.
The team from University of Texas, US, studied 10 organisations that have financially sound workplace wellness programmes. They conducted interviews with senior executives, managers of health-related functions and focus groups of middle managers and employees - in all, about 300 people.
The team found companies in a variety of industries have built their employee wellness programmes on all six pillars and have reaped big rewards in the form of lower costs, greater productivity and higher morale. Those benefits are not easy to achieve, and verifiable paybacks are never a certainty, but the track record inspires emulation, especially when the numbers are studied, the report states. - (EurekAlert!, November 2010)