Wellness programs are smart for employees and the bottom
line, a new study shows. The return on investment is sometimes as high as six
To achieve those kinds of results, employers cannot merely
offer workers a few passes to a fitness center and nutrition information in the
cafeteria, researchers report in the December issue of Harvard Business Review.
The most successful wellness programs are supported by six
- 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.
They conducted interviews with senior executives, managers
of health-related functions and focus groups of middle managers and employees
-- in all, about 300 people.
A broad range of companies -- including Johnson &
Johnson, Lowe's, H-E-B, and Healthwise -- have built their employee wellness
programs 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.