Company Wellness Makes Us Happy… And It Makes Us Rich

There’s a lot to say for Company Wellness programs, but before we dive into the details that will sell you on it, let’s just start with the most crucial figure. If you only know one thing about Company Wellness, it should be this:

According to the RAND Corporation: For every dollar a business spends on Company Wellness, they see $3.80 ROI.

That’s nearly a 400% return on your investment. So let’s take a look at why that is.

The first most obvious reason industry giants like Google and Nike, along with more savvy small businesses, are sinking so much money into Company Wellness is that it can go a long way in decreasing Health Care costs. Currently employers are paying through the nose to keep up with their employees’ healthcare costs. An estimated $93 billion dollars is spent on treating obesity and related chronic diseases every year. With it being projected that nearly a quarter of US employees will be 55 or older by 2018, it shouldn’t be a surprise that healthcare is one of the most pressing areas a business should target to cut costs.

The Company Wellness industry is now a $8 billion dollar industry in the US alone, and estimated to be $40 billion world-wide. That’s because companies are offering programs for their employees to address these common needs:

-    Nutrition and Weight

-    Smoking Cessation

-    Fitness

-    Alcohol and Drug Abuse

-    Stress Management

-    Basic Health

Let’s take a look at fitness.

Here is a list of companies who all provide on-site gyms and exercise classes for their employees to enjoy: Google, Nike, Twitter, Zappos, SAS, Genentech, General Mills, Microsoft, and the list goes on and on. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Not only does exercise dramatically increase one’s chances of remaining healthy, it also has a marked effect on depression, anxiety, stress. All of those obviously effect a worker’s productivity.

These programs are taking a chunk out of what each business is spending on employee’s healthcare, but is that where all the ROI is coming from? No. It’s also coming from a burst of productivity employees experience when their wellness is more catered to in the work place.

The more enjoyable it is to work for your company, the more qualified people will actually want to work there. Of course work is still just exactly that: work. How is that supposed to be fun?

Maybe “fun” is the wrong word.

The key is to focus on eliminating workplace stress. This isn’t because your workers need to be coddled. It’s because research is flooding in that shows workers who are less stressed are more productive, and companies that focus on decompressing their employees start to see much better results. Their jobs suddenly become more desirable, their candidates are more qualified, and their employees are more loyal, more healthy, and more satisfied.

Strangely, a lot of these techniques are aimed at giving the employees the ability to escape their jobs. That may sound counterintuitive. But it makes more sense than you think.

Google famously installed “nap pods” onto their campus where employees can go get a well-deserved snooze. This plays into the same basic concept companies are playing into when they implement another popular program: increased (and sometimes unlimited) Paid Time Off.

If that sounds scary to you, that’s okay. If you let employees go on too many vacations, won’t we just get nothing done? Apparently it’s the opposite. A 2014 Oxford Study showed that 42% of US workers with PTO ended the year with 8.1 unused days. But even if they weren’t using them, the availability of those days decreases stress. Plus, a 2012 Intuit study showed that 82% of small businesses reported an increase in productivity when people returned form vacation.

Why do naps, vacations, and even the increased ability to work from home with a flexible schedule, seem to boost productivity? It’s actually rather simple. Work ethic doesn’t plunge, because employees like their jobs better. They want to keep them. They feel more loyal to the company, and so they don’t just use these as opportunities to slack off. Instead, the freedom from a rigorous schedule is uplifting, and the ability to recharge means you’re not trying to get good work out of a tired, angry, hungry employee. You’re getting them at their best, after they’ve had time to reassess, reenergize, and reorient themselves into their work.

All in all, it may seem a little odd. America has always understood work to be a painstaking necessity, and your ability to shoulder the load of a good job was a marker of an adult’s maturity. But I can’t say I’m not grateful for this new trend. Making work more enjoyable doesn’t seem to be diminishing it people’s lives. Instead, businesses and employees alike are reaping huge benefits from Company Wellness. It’s a win-win that literally makes everyone more happy, and it just so happens to even make us rich.