Study: Workplace Wellness Program Participants are More Loyal, Engaged

Interest in workplace wellness programs has been rising as employers and insurance companies battle rapidly rising health care costs. However, a recent study led by Maritz found that wellness programs benefit companies beyond lower health costs. Participants also are more engaged employees.

Employees at companies offering wellness programs are significantly more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to remain with the company long term, and more likely to recommend the company as an employer to a friend or family member. Even the people who only occasionally participate in a wellness program are significantly higher on the listed measures of employee engagement than the people who never participate.

"With the U.S. drowning in health care costs, which are projected to top a whopping $4 trillion by 2015, and with three-quarters of current spending being squandered on chronic conditions that are largely preventable, it's no secret that employers and insurance companies see corporate wellness programs as a lifesaver that could keep them afloat," said Mindy McGrath, vice president of strategy for Maritz' health care sector. "We hypothesize employees who participate in wellness programs may see them as a lifesaver as well, which may give them a heightened perception their companies care about their personal well-being, making them feel better about their workplace."

The poll data also showed a relationship between the level of participation in a wellness program and absenteeism at work. People indicating regular, once-a-week participation in a wellness program took significantly less sick time than those choosing to never participate. Even the people with sporadic participation (e.g., once a month, a few times a year, once a year) in wellness programs had better work attendance records than those with no participation at all.

Beyond single sick days, people with regular once-a-week participation in a wellness program were significantly less likely to be sidelined for an extended period of time. Infrequent participation did not show much of an impact on the more extreme cases of lost work time.

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