Pros and Cons of Corporate Wellness Programs

Full-time employees in the United States work almost 1,700 hours per year. With so much time spent at the daily toil, healthy habits often get ignored. To fight this, more than 90pc of large employers and 73pc of small employers promote wellness programs in the workplace.

For several employers, these initiatives promise savings in the face of growing medical costs, and for their employees, the opportunity to begin or maintain healthy activities such as exercising, taking proper diet and monitoring high blood pressure.

Inculcating healthy behavior while also cutting down costs sounds like a good idea, but not everyone agrees to it. Critics believe these programs are expensive, imperil employee privacy, and victimize employees if they are unable to participate.

So, are workplace wellness programs worth it?

Well, the answer is both yes and no. Here’s the explanation.

Merits of Workplace Wellness Programs

A well-received, peer-reviewed meta-analysis of literature disclosed an average drop of health care outlays of $3.27 per $1 spent and a decrease of costs owing to nonattendance of $2.73 for every $1 spent. A wide body of research also reveals disability, worker emoluments and recruiting and training expenses are reduced by workplace wellness programs.

Wellness programs positively affect company culture and pull talent. It is believed that these programs boost morale as well as inter-employee relationships, which leads to a general improvement in working conditions. What’s more, these initiatives support health behaviors and outcomes. Several businesses and individual employees report improvements in healthy behaviors after partaking in such programs.

“Wellness programs increase output and decrease nonattendance and disability claims. A fitness program by a telecommunications colossus reduced employee absences by 0.8%, saving the company $2 million annually”, stated by Mr. Tim, a fitness expert from Corporate wellness Dubai.

A comprehensive study of blue-collar workers discovered that wide-ranging workplace wellness initiatives cut down disability by 15pc over two years. The savings from only disability payments was sufficient to cover the cost of the program.

The Counter Argument of Workplace Wellness Programs

Running wellness programs is a costly undertaking, with potential insufficient return on investment. Wellness programs are not, in reality, voluntary. While involvement in workplace wellness programs must be voluntary, it does not define a clear outline as to how that should be achieved. In fact, employees may feel that these programs are mandatory owing to the financial advantages and disadvantages tied to participation.

The typical, badly run wellness programs tend to be biased and can discourage people from seeking health care. A study by Horwitzet al revealed that it is very hard for workplace wellness programs to have substantial returns without being prejudiced toward disabled people, chronic conditions or low socioeconomic status. This implies those who would benefit most from wellness programs are deterred from partaking.

Wellness programs can encroach on peoples sense of confidentiality. Many employers gather biometric data through blood tests to collect collective information regarding their employees’ health in terms of preventable medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Several employees believe the collection of biometric data to be a violation on their privacy and risk being dragged into health improvement behaviors by their employer.

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