A key component of successful worksite wellness programs is a deeper understanding of the behavior you can change, and the behavior you can’t. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A recent study in JAMA showed that a large workplace wellness at BJ’s Wholesale Club failed to improve employee health and deliver ROI. The study looked at the 32,000-plus employees of BJ’s Wholesale Club and concluded that while the company’s worksite wellness program did lead to higher rates of exercise and weight management, it did not have an impact on health behaviors, clinical markers of health, health spending or absenteeism.

In short, the program and others like it was found to be nice, but not cost-saving. This study doesn’t conclude wellness doesn’t work, just that it hasn’t (so far) in this example. Yet most managers shouldn’t be surprised by that when you look at the entire picture.

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