Implementing and Tracking the ROI of an Employee Wellness Program

Are you ready to set up an employee wellness program? Here are ideas to consider, as well as methods to calculate your program’s ROI.



Is your company ready to offer a wellness program for employees? From higher productivity and employee engagement, to fewer sick days, workers’ comp incidents, and medical and pharmacy costs, an effective employee wellness program creates a nice return on investment (ROI) for employers. 

In this article, we’ll discuss employee wellness initiatives, as well as ways to measure the cost effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) for comprehensive wellness programs. 

Wellness Program Ideas 

Depending on your company’s budget, you could choose one or any combination of the following employee wellness initiatives to get your employees on a healthier track. 

Health risk assessments 

Provide a monetary incentive for employees to conduct an annual health risk assessment with biometric screening to identify personal health risks. This will help them discover ways to improve their physical health. 

Group fitness classes 

Whether you bring someone onsite or pay for (or subsidize) employees to be part of an existing class, participating in group yoga classes, Zumba, dance, Pilates, boxing, or another fitness class is a great way for employees to burn calories and build relationships at the same time. Even remote employees could join in virtually to participate before or after work. 

Mental and emotional health classes 

Mental health challenges continue to be a significant issue for many people. To help employees combat these issues that affect them personally and professionally, you can offer mental health days, stress management seminars, meditation classes, counseling services, and/or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

Financial wellness classes 

Money is a major cause of stress for over 55% of families. To improve your employees' financial literacy, bring someone onsite or subsidize an existing class for employees to learn about retirement planning, student loans, tuition reimbursement, managing debt, stock options, and other forms of financial education. 

Fitness competition 

Chances are your employees are already tracking steps and calories burned on their smart watch or fitness tracking device to monitor their physical fitness and overall well-being. Throw in a little competition with rewards and watch the enthusiasm (and playful trash talking) skyrocket. 

Company-paid gym membership 

While your budget will determine how much you pay towards monthly memberships, providing access to a gym will give employees access to a venue where they can feel a sense of community with fellow participants. Exercising also creates endorphins that increase energy and enhance good moods, which carry over to the workplace. 

Office sports team 

Many communities offer co-ed recreation sports leagues where your workplace could create a team and participate in pickleball, softball, kickball, racquetball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, or some other event. Workers who have no desire to participate in this type of physical activity can still come and cheer on their coworkers and be part of the post-game snack. 

Subsidized health-related expenses 

Employees who choose to improve their health and wellness with elective programs like massage therapy, sports leagues, recreation lessons, race registration, health coaching, financial counseling, weight loss, a personal trainer, health fairs, and so on could have them subsidized by the company up to a specified monthly amount. You set the parameters of the program of what is and is not eligible, along with the monthly allowable amount. 

Water drinking challenge 

Perhaps one of the most cost-effective wellness programs you could implement is a water drinking challenge. Everyone who drinks an average of 64 ounces of water each day for so many days receives a prize.  

You could also reward for the highest water consumption-to-soda ratio where employees report how many ounces of plain water they drink in a day compared to soda, including diet and zero sugar soda options. 

Healthy snacks 

Instead of donuts, pastries, and mini candy bars laying around the office, provide healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables for employees to consume throughout the day. You can allot a budgeted amount to help sponsor the program or have employees sign up to take turns providing them. 

Flexible working hours 

If you do not currently offer flexible work schedules, consider mixing things up by allowing employees to have flexible work hours, remote work options, or hybrid work schedules. Could some of your staff members start an hour earlier on Monday through Thursday and finish working by noon on Fridays? Can paid time off be used in smaller increments than full days?  

Giving employees flexible options may make all the difference in managing personal matters. This type of flexibility also improves personal work-life balance. 

Stair step challenge 

Create a competition for who can climb the most stairs in a day, week, month, etc. Throughout the day, employees could step away from their desk to walk the stairs in between meetings or appointments and tally them as they go. 

Keep in mind that, per the Americans with Disabilities Act, your comprehensive wellness program must provide reasonable accommodations that enable employees with disabilities to participate and earn whatever incentives are offered. Contact your certified HR expert for more information. 

Is your workplace wellness program working? How to tell. 

When evaluating corporate wellness programs, consider the following: 

  1. Participation

If you have multiple wellness initiatives, tally participation to show what has been the greatest interest to workers. Programs that have little-to-no interest to employees can be dropped and budgets reallocated to something with greater wellness program engagement. 

  1. Satisfaction

Gauge employee satisfaction with your initiative(s) by sending out surveys and requesting honest, anonymous feedback for what they like or dislike, as well as suggestions for improvement. 

  1. Behavior changes

Gather data about employees’ health habits prior to launching the program and then periodically afterwards. Use this data to determine whether your wellness efforts have helped change behaviors. 

Taking a deeper dive into quantitative metrics will give you more information about the program’s effectiveness, as well as its ROI. 

What's the hard return on employee wellness programs? 

While most employers will want quantitative metrics to validate a corporate wellness program, many of those initiatives may take months or years to track, calculate, and compare baseline data with metrics from the initiative. If you are ready to patiently monitor the results to determine your wellness program ROI, here are several areas to measure: 

Healthcare Costs 

Count and compare the number of insurance claims related to preventable conditions year-over-year. 


Compare the number of sick days taken month-to-month and year-over-year, comparing similar months from previous years during normal periods of illness, vacation, or other fluctuations. 


Measure individual and team output and efficiencies. 

Employee Retention and Turnover 

Track your overall employee retention and turnover rates from month-to-month and year-over-year, comparing similar months and trends. 

Employee Engagement and Job Satisfaction 

Using an employee survey, ask how much employees use the wellness program. 

  • Evaluate morale, teamwork, communication, and collaboration.
  • Based on employee input, gauge the wellness program’s influence on the company’s image and attractiveness to potential employees.
  • Assess overall worker engagement and job satisfaction. 

If you already implemented your wellness program prior to creating baseline data, your results may not provide a completely accurate ROI. However, you could research comparable companies and use benchmark data to help measure results. 

Warning about Workplace Wellness Programs 

While a good wellness program adds to the attractiveness of your workplace culture, it is not a solve-all. When there are consuming work demands or feelings of micromanagement or a lack of communication or an unsafe or toxic work environment, a wellness program will not entice employees to stay. Instead, your first priority should be building a positive workplace culture. 

Once your employees are engaged in their work and feel respected, valued, supported, and motivated, a wellness program will enhance your benefit offerings, improve your employee health, and boost overall productivity. 

For more information about creating a positive workplace culture or supplementing your employee benefits package with a wellness program, please contact your certified HR expert. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly. 

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