The bottom line is employers benefit from investing in wellness and minimizing incurred losses due to employee illness and related loss of productivity. One study, which modeled returns on investments for workplace obesity interventions, estimated that a 5% weight loss would result in a reduction of total annual costs, including medical costs and costs of absenteeism, of $90 per person, demonstrating that workplace wellness is not only beneficial to employees, but employers too![i] Studies have also suggested that worksite health promotions interventions can improve workplace productivity, which suggests the cost-effectiveness of such programs.[ii] Last, employers need to invest in their employees with chronic conditions, and it is actually cost-effective for them to do so. A 2014 RAND study estimated that the total return on investment for workplace wellness programs was $1.50 – or a return of $1.50 for every dollar the employer invested in workplace wellness.[iii]It is important to note that the majority of these returns were driven by investments from disease management programs. While the workplace wellness programs evaluated only invested 13% of total workplace wellness funds towards disease management programs (87% on lifestyle management programs), those investments had significantly higher returns of $3.80. In other words, there was a return of $3.80 for every dollar employer’s invested in disease management programs, savings that were driven primarily by reduced healthcare costs, and secondarily by reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. [iv] These findings should encourage employers to invest in their employees who have chronic conditions like diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity.
[ii] Jensen, J.D., Can worksite nutritional interventions improve productivity and firm profitability? A literature review. Perspectives in Public Health, 2011. 131(4): p. 184-192.
[iii] Soeren Mattke et al., “Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money?,” 2014.
[iv] Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money? Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation; 2014.