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Employer wellness programs exist for two key reasons: 1) to save on a company’s health care costs; and 2) to help keep employees healthier and more productive. Despite their existence since the early 1970s, the truth is that wellness programs, in general, have been ineffective at demonstrating a clear return-on-investment (ROI) for employers. At the same time however, scientific research indicates employers should see a return of $1.50 to $2.00 from each dollar spent on wellness programs. The disconnect between studies and reality stems from the fact that there is no simple way for an organization to realize the same results. Instead, to be successful, an employer must implement wellness programs by first developing a concrete strategy to drive and track employee engagement.

We are not suggesting your clients focus solely on the number of individuals who have signed up for a wellness program or are accessing its services. Rather, these employers should utilize data and analytics to optimize their wellness efforts and create more targeted, meaningful and personalized programs for their employees.

After all, simply providing a generalized wellness program for all employees is not an effective approach. A non-tailored program typically only attracts the healthiest of employees — those who already demonstrate high levels of motivation and do not require employer incentives. While they may regularly utilize the gym, log their number of daily miles and earn rewards, it is not the driving reason behind their conduct, nor does it impact behavioral changes across their organization. Keep in mind, these are not the individuals adding to a company’s health care expenditures or reducing overall productivity; in fact, they are likely the least costly and often most efficient employees.

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