Understanding corporate wellness program costs as investments
By: Mady Peterson
The world of business is trained to look for ROI on every dollar — instantly. Through that lens, it can be difficult to justify corporate wellness program costs. Money spent today may reduce healthcare costs, but over a longer timeline than most businesses can capture in an annual report. Then there are all the seemingly intangible benefits that make finance leaders suspicious of paying for a corporate wellness program. Things like engagement, inclusion and experience among staff aren’t necessarily line items that directly affect stakeholders.
But if you want a culture that keeps good people and gets the best work out of them, a corporate wellness program is exactly what you should be investing in. Turnover is three times lower for employees who use the Limeade Well-Being solution, an intangible benefit that turns into hard dollars quickly.
The best wellness programs will do a lot more than lower healthcare costs over time. They’ll offer engagement that keeps your staff happy at work.
First, how much do corporate wellness programs usually cost?
Like anything, the cost of employee care has a wide range — with the average cost of wellness program per employee per year being anywhere from $150 to $2,000, according to some studies. The average cost of a wellness program was $762 per employee in 2019. The corporate wellness pricing models will vary by vendor, so look for a provider that’s willing to meet you where you are. That may mean looking for a discount based on size, or for signing a longer contract. Or it may mean prioritizing flexibility and adaptability.
The wide range of corporate wellness pricing models comes with a wide range in results. Ultimately, the right price for your company will meet the unique needs of your staff today, and grow with you going forward.
What’s included in corporate wellness program costs
The costs of wellness programs can vary depending on which categories of wellness you want to offer to your people and what you think they will benefit from. Physical health, emotional well-being, financial well-being and work well-being are all possible from a good wellness program.
Some programs offer a-la-carte pricing — a choice of programs that are most important for your team. If you go with this model, it’s good to check in periodically and reevaluate those choices to make sure the programs are still relevant. Others will offer a set package of activities and programs to take or leave — or allow you to customize an existing set of activities to best engage your people. An all-in-one solution like Limeade Well-Being can help promote and increase utilization of benefits and resources offered by an employer.
All well-being programs should have some method you can use to communicate the activities and benefits to your people. When price-comparing corporate wellness programs, keep the ease of use of this system — for yourself and your people — top of mind.
Where to spend on corporate wellness — and where to save
The greatest wellness program with the most scientific methodology won’t make a difference if people don’t use it. One of the most effective places to spend in a corporate wellness program is on communication. The fewer barriers between employees and their path toward wellness goals, the more will use it.
People want an experience that’s as easy as their favorite apps — corporate wellness programs have to deliver that. The right platform doubled tax company Ryan’s monthly active users.
Some corporate wellness programs spend money on cash rewards for meeting wellness goals. This is a great area to save. Intrinsic rewards, games, positive feedback systems, company participation, can be much more effective at increasing participation, not to mention cheaper. Cash prizes may incentivize the winner, but more personalized feedback helps the individual feel better at work.
If corporate wellness program costs don’t immediately return an ROI, don’t panic
The ROI from a corporate wellness program may take time to show. That’s not an indication of failure, but the nature of wellness programs. Personal growth and evolution don’t happen overnight, but the research shows if people participate, they benefit.
Our CEO Henry Albrecht discussed this in his piece “The Right Way to Look at the ROI of Wellness in the Workplace.” Some initiatives are harder to quantify outcomes — feelings of inclusion and fulfillment are hard to track closely over time. Other great outcomes can result from a few different initiatives — less sick days taken and more overall productivity could be from exercise or mindfulness or the satisfaction of financial freedom, so it’s tough to point to one for success.
Better morale and greater productivity are often shown to be benefits of corporate wellness programs. These are the qualities any organization wants for their teams.
Sell your corporate wellness program as the investment it is
One of the struggles of choosing a corporate wellness program is how you internally sell it to the C-suite. Reduction in healthcare costs is just the start. According to this study and others like it, every dollar you invest into a wellness program yields $6 in health care savings and a $1,500 reduction in annual healthcare claims for participants.
Still, the timeline may leave leaders wanting more proof before agreeing to the cost of a program. This is where the intangibles — morale, inclusion, engagement, well-being — come into play. We know that over time, they have significant impacts in retention and productivity rates, and therefore the company bottom line. Investing in an easy-to-use and easy-to-customize corporate wellness program is an investment in your people. The ROI may not show immediately, but the value for your entire organization will be worth the wait.