Organizational Wellness

Workplace Wellness: How Companies Can Harness this Productivity Superpower

Jan 18, 2024
Last Updated May 10, 2024

Workplace wellness programs empower companies to unlock untapped potential within their organization.

These initiatives support employees’ health through initiatives like fitness classes, nutrition guidance, and mental wellness resources. This can translate into improved business metrics — worker wellbeing is foundational to productivity, and wellness programs can also drive down healthcare spending.

This guide quips HR leaders to harness workplace wellness as a productivity superpower. You’ll learn:

  • Key aspects to look for in a wellness program 
  • The business case for workplace wellness to share with C-suite leaders
  • Strategies to get employees engaged in the program
  • How to measure workplace wellness over time

Whether launching new initiatives or optimizing existing ones, this comprehensive guide details every phase of building a best-in-class wellness program — from securing buy-in to measuring ROI. 

Let’s unlock wellness as a strategic advantage for your talent, culture, and bottom line!

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Key Components of an Effective Workplace Wellness Program

Fostering wellness is a lot like tending a garden. Any garden needs nutritious soil, consistent sun, fresh water, buzzing pollinators, and a variety of plants to thrive.

Now imagine you are trying to grow a garden in poor soil, during a drought, without enough plant variety for cross-pollination. “No matter,” you say. “I’ll simply overwater the garden — the extra water will make up for everything else it’s missing. It will start thriving then.”

Of course this would not work. Getting excess water does not erase a plant’s need for nutrients and pollinators. People are the same. Weightlifting can help you deal with work stress, but it won’t absolve the need to address the source of your anxiety. 

This means any effective wellness program is holistic. Employees can rely on it to take care of multiple dimensions of wellbeing, from emotional to physical. 

Here are a few ways you can implement well-rounded programming into your workplace wellness program.

Physical Wellness

Why this Matters: A staggering 93% of workers say their physical health impacts their work productivity

Actions You Can Take:

  • Provide gym memberships, giving employees free or discounted access to fitness facilities to encourage regular exercise.
  • Host fitness challenges and events like walkathons or 5k races inject camaraderie into getting active.
  • Access to personal trainers provides professional guidance for safe, personalized fitness plans.
  • Ergonomic assessments to prevent musculoskeletal disorders help configure workstations to avoid injury.

Dive Deeper: How To Lower Corporate Healthcare Costs By Boosting The Physical Activity Of Employees

Mental Wellness

Why this Matters: An even higher 95% of employees say their emotional wellbeing affects their output.

Actions You Can Take:

  • Sponsor subscriptions to meditation apps that give workers tools to build mindfulness and resilience.
  • Offer robust employee assistance programs (EAPs) offering counseling provide licensed support for managing stress, anxiety, grief, and more.
  • Provide flexible work options to support work-life wellness help employees adjust schedules to tend to personal needs.
  • Consider instituting paid time off policies – including mental health days — that encourage people to take the time they need to rest and recharge.

Dive Deeper: How Mental Wellbeing Programs Reduce Corporate Healthcare Costs

Sleep Wellness

Why this Matters: Sleep deprived employees are more likely to make mistakes and omissions, decreasing work quality and (potentially) opening the company to legal problems. 

Actions You Can Take:

  • Host workshops on healthy sleep habits teach employees strategies to improve sleep quality and consistency.
  • Support flexible schedules to suit different energy cycles.
  • Providing sleep trackers to improve quality gives insight into sleep data to inform positive changes.

Dive Deeper: How to Reduce Corporate Healthcare Costs By Helping Employees Get Better Sleep

Nutrition Wellness

Why this Matters: Nearly 80% of people say a better diet would optimize their performance at work.

Actions You Can Take:

Dive Deeper: How Improving Employee Nutrition Can Lower Corporate Healthcare Costs

Cultivating holistic wellness can power peak productivity. This is especially true when you provide a flexible program that lets workers access resources that meet their unique needs.

Six Workforce Wellness Stats to Make a Business Case to Your C-Suite

By clearly outlining the financial benefits and operational improvements associated with employee wellbeing, you can increase your chances of showing leadership the benefits of supporting a wellness program.

  1. The Return on Investment (ROI) of Wellness Programs:

Statistic: 9 out of 10 of companies that measure their wellness program’s financial impact see a positive return on investment.

Impact: Demonstrating the positive financial return on investment is crucial for securing C-suite buy-in.

  1. The Link Between Wellness and Productivity:

Statistic: 94% of workers say their physical wellbeing impacts their work productivity.

Impact: Highlighting the productivity gains from a healthy workforce resonates with bottom-line-focused executives.

  1. The Benefits of Employee Engagement

Statistic: Business units with engaged workers have 23% higher profit compared with business units with miserable workers, according to Gallup research.

Impact: Investing in employee wellness can directly reduce these costs by improving engagement and productivity.

  1. The Impact of Stress on Absenteeism

Statistic: Stress costs U.S. businesses $500 billion annually in accidents, absenteeism, and lost productivity, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Impact: Implementing stress management programs can significantly reduce absenteeism and related costs.

  1. The Importance of Sleep for Performance

Statistic: Fatigue costs employers nearly $2,000 annually per employee due to lost productivity and motivation, and increased healthcare costs, estimate researchers in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 

Impact: Promoting healthy sleep habits can boost focus, creativity, and decision-making among employees.

  1. The Connection Between Employee Wellness and Talent Retention

Statistic: 87% of workers would consider leaving a company that does not focus on employee wellbeing.

Impact: Investing in a strong wellness program can help you keep employees on staff in a competitive market.

Using visual aids like charts or graphs can make these statistics like these more impactful and readily digestible for your C-suite audience.

Dive Deeper: How to Convince Your CEO and CFO to Invest in a Wellness Program

Driving Employee Participation in Your Wellness Program

Launching a wellness program takes more than sending a single staff-wide email. After all your good work, you don’t want this exciting announcement to get lost in their inbox. You have to share information with employees consistently and through a wide variety of channels to garner engagement, so you will want a comprehensive communications plan.

Consider starting your launch with an announcement at a company-wide town hall meeting. This sends a strong message to your employees that their wellbeing is a top priority for the organization. (After the town hall announcement is a good time for that staff-wide email, since you can tell them to look out for it!)

After your initial launch comes the next phase: continual communication. Wrap joining your wellbeing program into company onboarding, issue celebratory chats in the company Slack when you hit programmatic milestones, and share information about upcoming wellness events or new resources on staff intranet or break rooms.

Social media is also a powerful tool. HR representatives can lead by example, sharing their wellness journey on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Not only does this make use of the program visible, it can serve as a great recruitment tool for candidates vetting a company’s dedication to employee wellbeing.

And don’t underestimate the power of in-house influencers! Building a team of wellness champions can help you promote the program. Pulling these enthusiastic employees  from every part of the organization — across departments, seniority,  identity, and work environment groups — promotes inclusivity and engagement.

When done effectively, this can foster ownership and ensure the program resonates with all levels of your organization. Research shows people who have a Wellness Champion in their department are more engaged and satisfied, have a better view of their overall wellbeing, and have a higher opinion of their employer. Such a strong connection to your boots-on-the-ground forces has the added benefit of helping you ensure the wellness program evolves as necessary to meet the changing needs of your employees.

Measuring the Impact of Wellness at Your Workplace

The first stage in launching a wellness initiative that improves productivity is identifying what aspects of your workforce wellbeing need a boost. This lets you optimize your wellbeing program to address these issues. You can do this with traditional HR metrics and Wellhub’s interactive employee wellness assessment.

The second step is to pick the metrics you will track related to productivity. Following your wellness and output metrics together over time will allow you to quantify the business impact of your wellbeing program. 

Workforce Wellness Metrics You Can Track

  • Annual Medical Costs Per Employee: Monitoring the annual medical costs per employee gives you insight into the state of workforce physical health. If you find that there are patterns in which certain departments or cohorts of people have higher costs than others, it may be worth investing more resources into these areas to ensure that all employees have access to adequate healthcare.
  • Engagement with Company Fitness Programs: Pulling the participation rates of any existing wellness programs can give you an idea of which ones your staff finds the most helpful. These figures can range from the number of employees who attend a meditation webinar to how many employees enroll for a gym membership reimbursement.
  • Sick Days: High rates of absenteeism due to illness are a clear indicator of poor physical wellness in an organization. If there is a spike in absences from certain departments or at certain times of year, it can indicate targeted adjustments need to be made.
  • Stress-Induced Healthcare Spending: Examples of health issues often tied to chronic stress include insomnia, weight fluctuation, high blood pressure, heart and digestive problems, and depression. If you see a spike in utilization of related medical services — or mental health resources— it could indicate employees with low mental wellness.
  • Mental Health Days: If you offer these, you can track utilization trends over time. While using them is a good thing — that’s what they’re there for and using benefits helps maintain emotional wellness over time — heavy use or spikes in usage can indicate a problem.
  • Employee Morale: To measure morale, you can include targeted questions in anonymous surveys where employees are asked to rate questions on a scale from one to five, such as “I am proud to work here” or “My supervisor cares about my wellbeing.”

Productivity Metrics You Can Track

  • Revenue Per Employee: Monitoring revenue generated per employee over time shows how productivity translates to business growth. Increases can indicate wellness initiatives are working.
  • Project Delivery Times: Gather data on average project length compared to estimates across teams. Shorter delivery times signal greater efficiency. See if wellness programming correlates to improvements.
  • Hours Worked Per Week: Track weekly average hours logged per employee. Increases, especially beyond 40 hours, can indicate overworked staff rather than greater efficiency. Optimizing for fewer hours can actually be a good thing!
  • Errors and Redos: Tally quarterly incidents requiring rework to fix mistakes. A reduction indicates better quality and precision.
  • Innovation Metrics: You can monitor patent applications, new product launches, or process improvements yearly. Gains highlight innovation and forward progress.
  • Surveys: Using Likert scale questions in engagement surveys like “I am able to work productively most of the time” can help you quantify effectiveness over time.

Evaluating trends in wellness and productivity metrics together enables you to make data-driven decisions on program efficacy.

Supercharge Productivity

Creating a successful wellness program takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it for both employees and employers. A holistic program improves lives and the bottom line at the same time. Who wouldn’t want that win-win?

You have help at every stage of the process when you partner with Wellhub. Our network of over 50,000 fitness providers and wellbeing apps provides the support employees need to thrive. From nutrition tracking to personal trainers, our services provide the flexibility and variety that can drive returns.

There’s a reason more than 15,000 organizations already rely on us for a happier, more productive workforce! 

Speak with a Wellbeing Specialist today.

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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