Top benefits of employee wellness programs

Top benefits of employee wellness programs

Modern employee wellness programs (EAP) have evolved to be more holistic than they were even just a few years ago. Today, they often incorporate physical, mental, environmental, professional, community, and even financial components, as organizations realize they need to adjust to meet the growing needs of their workforce. 

It’s not just a win for employees, though. As workplace wellness program scopes grow, so does the positive impact they’ll offer employers. Benefits of corporate wellness programs for employers include: 

  • Stress reduction
  • Enhanced employee productivity
  • Power in recruitment and retention
  • Strengthened company culture
  • Improved morale and inclusivity
  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Reduced healthcare costs

It’s become increasingly clear that all aspects of our lives impact well-being. For example, if an employee doesn’t have reliable childcare, is in an unhealthy relationship, or is facing foreclosure on their home, they can’t possibly be fully present at work. Life’s challenges create stress, which could leads to an elevated health risk and lower productivity — both of which are common concerns for companies and their workers. Simply put, wellness programs can address these challenges.

Today, just 18% of employees strongly agree that they feel supported by their employer in managing their mental well-being. That means organizations have a real opportunity to improve overall wellness programs and create a more positive impact.

8 Benefits of Implementing an Employee Wellness Program

Corporate wellness programs’ benefits are amplified when designed in response to employees’ needs. External research and internal data points can help leaders build robust wellness programs that support safe and healthy work environments. 

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, workers who use employee assistance programs (EAPs) or other wellness programs reduce their annual medical costs by an estimated $1,400. It’s not just about cost reduction alone, though. Investing in an effective employee wellness program lets employees know you value them and their mental and physical health.

Holistic employee wellness programs benefits can enhance entire organizations by helping employees become happier, healthier, and ultimately, more productive. The following list explores how businesses can unlock massive ROI and see their workplace wellness program pay off many times over.  

1. Reduced stress in the workplace

Inflation, pandemics, politics, and more — your employees are stressed even before they get to work. Talkspace’s Employee Stress Check Report found that nearly half —  a whopping 46% — of all people find work too stressful. That level of stress can directly translate to a loss of productivity. 

In 2021, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 59% of employees said stress had a negative impact on their lives in the past month, including difficulty focusing and a lack of interest, motivation, energy, and effort.

The good news is effective employee wellness programs' benefits include stress reduction and improved mental health outcomes. According to the APA’s survey, 87% of employees believe employers can take action to support their mental health by making simple changes, like offering flexible hours and encouraging workday breaks and PTO. Mandatory mental health days are another popular method of supporting work-life balance and overall mental wellness.

Other considerations might include offering therapy, psychiatry, and self-guided mental health support to mitigate stress in the workplace. 37% of workers in the APA’s survey said offering mental health resources would help create a psychologically healthy work environment.

2. Increased employee retention   

Employee wellness program’s benefits can directly influence worker retention. Gallup found employees are 2.6x more likely to actively seek another job when they suffer burnout related to untenable working conditions (including poor management and unreasonable expectations). Research suggests retention can be improved with better management training, greater flexibility, less micromanagement, and a mentally healthy office culture — these are all components of employee wellness programs.

In short, mental health services can become an essential retention tool for your wellness program. The APA found that people who typically feel stressed out at work are more than 3 times as likely to plan on seeking new employment within the year. Employers have a significant opportunity to turn this number around. According to Talkspace research, 66% of workers who’ve considered quitting say access to mental health services might inspire them to stay at their job given the ability to reduce workplace stress

3. Strengthens recruitment 

One of the biggest benefits of employee wellness programs is the ability to support and amplify a healthy corporate culture. Company culture shows up at every touchpoint, shaping impressions of your employer brand for clients, prospects, employees, and potential hires. Thus, making a positive impact is paramount.

A healthy workplace culture features healthier employees who are happy and engaged. These qualities come, in part, from showing people that you value them. Investing in your corporate wellness program does this, while helping you attract and retain quality talent. For example, some research suggests that up to 67% of employees whose workplace offers a wellness program say they’re likely to recommend their workplace to others. 

As for those prospective hires, 8 in 10 workers said an employer’s support for employee mental health would be “an important consideration” in their future job searches.

4. Higher workplace productivity 

It’s not shocking to learn that productivity suffers when employees experience poor mental health — including depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout. Productivity challenges and lack of motivation affect employees’ personal and professional lives. At work, poor mental health often leads to presenteeism — meaning, being physically present but unable to perform fully due to illness or injury.

Research suggests that presenteeism is a leading cause of lost productivity. ComPsych® found 34% of workers lost an hour of productivity or more each day due to stress. By reducing stress, wellness programs allow employees to focus on work and improve productivity. As employee stress decreases and productivity is restored at scale, profitability increases, and businesses realize a return on their wellness investment.

5. Improved company morale

Another one of the benefits of corporate wellness programs includes boosting employee morale. In an APA study on workplace well-being, just 53% of employees said they feel valued by their employer, and only 50% felt the rewards and recognition they received accurately reflected the time, energy, and effort they put into their role. When employees don’t feel valued, it can result in lost focus and drive. If it didn’t matter when they went the extra mile before, why would it matter now?

Creating a culture of recognition is a quick-win opportunity for organizations hoping to make an impact and re-engage employees. Recognizing contributions doesn’t have to cost much (or anything), but it can go a long way in ensuring employees feel valued. 

It seems that even simple gestures can have a significant impact. According to research, 75% of employees indicated their morale and motivation would improve if managers simply said “thank you” more and acknowledged good work.  

6. Decreased absenteeism

When employees miss work, productivity and profits suffer. With an employee wellness program that addresses mental health though, it’s possible to make a big dent in absenteeism costs. 

Gallup reports employees with burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day, and conservative estimates suggest the cost of a missed workday can be $340 per day for full-time workers. It’s possible to tackle absenteeism and mitigate missed workday costs with mental health service offerings. In as few as 12 weeks, studies show that therapy for employees helps people feel more energized, engaged, and productive.

7. Reduced healthcare costs

Thoughtfully-designed wellness programs have been found to reduce healthcare costs. Employers can reduce sick days, ER visits, and medical costs by investing in mental health and wellness services. 

Peer-reviewed studies support that an average ROI of $3.27 per dollar spent on wellness programs can be realized through healthcare cost reduction. To unlock these benefits, be ready to fully commit to a wellness program and nourish a healthy culture throughout the organization.

8 Ways to promote workplace inclusivity

No employee wellness program is complete without taking diverse experiences into account. 80% of employers report that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) influences their corporate well-being strategy. Support the wellness of all by incorporating DE&I initiatives into your program.

Studies have found a connection between inequity, discrimination, and stress — which can make affected employees twice as likely to seek new employment within the year. Mind Share Partners reports that Black and Latinx respondents to their survey experienced higher rates of every mental health symptom than any other respondents, illustrating why mental health can’t be separated from DE&I. 

This is just another one of the benefits of employee wellness programs — the ability to promote workplace inclusivity in support of company culture and DE&I initiatives. A wellness initiative is vital for younger workers. The APA found that people aged 25 - 42 were more likely to include DE&I efforts among their top priorities for employers to achieve a psychologically healthy workplace.

Make Mental Health a Priority in Your Employee Wellness Program

By now you should have a clear understanding of the many benefits of corporate wellness programs. Effective employee well-being takes a holistic approach to health and wellness. Most, if not all, of the components, have a mental health connection. Today, mental health services are an expected employee benefit, as the impact of stress and mental wellness in the workplace is better understood.

Not only do mental health services support your employees, they also make business sense. New research from the National Safety Council and the University of Chicago found employers see 4 times ROI for every dollar they spend on mental health treatment.

Talkspace can help you fortify your employee wellness program with mental health services that address employees’ challenges and allow you to realize your business goals.


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