When people think about employee wellness, they generally think about improving employee health and reducing healthcare costs. In 2010 Harvard researchers found that on average, there was a 6:1 return on investment (ROI) associated with employee wellness. The study found “that medical costs fall about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.” This report was great news for the wellness community, and many wellness vendors continue to pitch this ROI metric to clients.
While we agree that medical and absentee costs are powerful benefits of a well-constructed wellness program, they don’t tell the entire wellness story. There are other benefits of wellness, and two of these less talked about benefits are extremely compelling and worth greater attention.
Product, business model, and strategy are important, but without top employee talent nothing else matters. In the battle for talent, human resources teams use salary, promotion opportunities, career development, and other perks to attract and hire the best employees. Increasingly, wellness benefits are being added to the list of benefits used to recruit. “According to a study conducted by the Virgin Health Miles/Workforce Magazine, a striking 87 percent of employees say they consider health and wellness packages when choosing an employer.” Wellness programs demonstrate an employer’s commitment to employee’s personal health, likely an indication of the employer’s broader commitment to their employees’ growth, education, and wellbeing. With more firms offering wellness benefits, wellness is no longer a novelty. To be competitive in the talent market, employers need to offer competitive benefits, including wellness programs.
Employee referrals are often essential to successful recruiting. Top companies like Deloitte and Ernst and Young rely on employee referrals for about 50% of their hires. To keep the employee referral pipeline strong, companies must make sure that their firm is one worth recommending. According to a survey, wellness can play a major role in how likely an employee is to refer a friend to the company. “Employees who work for businesses with wellness initiatives say they like their jobs more—67% believe their employers take care of them. The same percentage say they’re extremely or very likely to recommend their workplace to others.”
With today’s average employee tenure at 4-5 years, retaining top talent can be a challenge. In addition to having recruiting benefits, wellness also plays a roll in retaining employees. “An organization is four times more likely to lose talent if its employees have an unfavorable view of its wellness efforts.” Wellness not only creates a happy work culture but also a more innovative one. “When wellness is a priority, employees are 3.5 times more likely to say they are being encouraged to be creative and innovative.” Innovation and opportunity keep employees excited about the company’s prospects and engaged with their work. Using wellness to retain employees isn’t only effective with larger companies. “Forty-five percent of Americans working at small to medium-sized companies say that they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs.” While employee turnover is healthy for any business, it’s important to ensure that employees are leaving for the right reasons.
Companies pay advertising firms millions of dollars to develop their brand. Brand helps sell products and win deals. A company’s brand must also extend into the labor market. How does the company treat employees? What is it like to work there? Are employees happy? Companies must advertise (often through their HR department) and promote their culture brand internally to current employees and externally to prospective employees. Aligning a brand with the theme of caring for employees can make it easier to recruit and retain employees. The best way to associate brand with caring is to offer a wellness program. Make sure the wellness program is exciting and fun – a program that gets people inside and outside of the company talking about wellness is good for the longevity of your employees and your company’s brand.