Reducing Absenteeism Through Employee Wellness Initiatives

Discover the advantages of Employee Wellness Programs: How they benefit both employees and employers.

Oct 03, 2023 6.1 minute read
Employee wellness

Employee wellness programs offer numerous benefits for workers and employers, including reduced absenteeism, more affordable healthcare costs, and better employee retention. A well-structured employee wellness program helps employees lead healthier lifestyles, which can reduce their risk of developing severe medical conditions that require costly medical treatment and time away from work.

What Is an Employee Wellness Program?

According to, employee wellness plans are designed to improve and promote employee health and fitness. In many wellness plans, the employer or plan offers employees various incentives for participating, such as gym memberships, cash rewards, and discounts on health products.

Wellness programs are typically broad in scope and may feature several sub-programs. For example, many employee wellness programs offer programs to help employees stop smoking, lose weight, and manage diabetes. Wellness programs typically include preventative health screenings and strategies for reducing the risk of severe injuries and illnesses as well.

How Do Employee Wellness Programs Benefit Employees?

A company wellness program can offer numerous benefits to employees. According to the Harvard Business Review, these programs yield health benefits for employees and help employers save money on expensive healthcare costs, which have continued to rise as the average age of the workforce increases. Johnson & Johnson is one prominent example of how employee wellness programs can benefit staff members. Since 1995, the proportion of smokers at the company has decreased by more than 66%. In addition, the proportion of employees with high blood pressure or who are not physically active has gone down by more than half.

Along with the direct health benefits of these programs, some other benefits of wellness programs for employees include:

  • Lower stress
  • Increased morale
  • Reduced risk of health conditions
  • Lower healthcare costs

What Are the Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs for Employers?

The previously mentioned article from the Harvard Business Review states that employee wellness programs also offer various benefits for employers. Leaders at Johnson & Johnson claim that the company saved over $250 million in healthcare costs between 2000 and 2010 thanks to the implementation of employee wellness programs. Between 2002 and 2008, the company saw a return of $2.71 for each dollar invested in these programs.

From a business perspective, healthier employees cost employers less. A study by Doctors Richard Milani and Carl Lavie evaluated a random sample of 185 employees and their spouses. These participants were not being treated for any heart conditions at the start of the study, but a team of experts provided them with cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training. Of the group that was deemed high-risk when the study began (based on variables like blood pressure and body fat), 57% became low-risk by the end of the six-month study. Medical claims costs also dropped by $1,421 per participant. In this example, each dollar invested in the program resulted in $6 in healthcare savings. You can learn more about how employee wellness programs benefit businesses by contacting our experienced business consultants at Wisterm.

Do Employee Wellness Programs Reduce Absenteeism?

Employee wellness programs have been proven to significantly reduce absenteeism. Research has found that on average, these programs reduce absenteeism by just over 25%. Some major companies have published the results of their employee wellness programs. For instance, DuPont managed to reduce employee disability days by 14 days a year after implementing an employee wellness and fitness program. Pacific Bell Telephone Company lowered absenteeism-related costs by about $2 million per year and disability leave costs by about $4.7 million by implementing an employee wellness program.

A well-structured employee wellness program lowers absenteeism by addressing some of the most common reasons for absenteeism. In workplaces that involve strenuous physical labor, employees often miss work due to lower back issues. An employee wellness program that addresses the risk of back problems through exercise may result in fewer absences due to back problems. Teaching employees about healthy eating habits and providing flu shots can lower the number of days missed due to illnesses.

Examples of Common Employee Wellness Programs

Many employee wellness programs focus on the physical health of workers, but a wide variety of programs can help a business and its employees. Beyond the short-term benefits of lower absenteeism, employee wellness programs also improve loyalty and satisfaction among staff members. This can lead to lower turnover rates, as more employees stay with the company long-term. Here are some of the most common employee wellness programs used by modern businesses:

  • Flexible hours – Employees who can complete their work at any time of day may be provided with a flexible work schedule, which promotes work-life balance and reduces stress.
  • Financial education – Financial issues are a major source of stress for many Americans. Workplace financial literacy programs can teach employees how to invest, plan for retirement, and budget, which can reduce stress.
  • Work-life balance – Some workplaces prioritize work-life balance, as this is key to employee well-being. For example, a company may even require their staff members to use their PTO days or prohibit employees from staying late.
  • Fitness programs and facilities – Exercise is paramount to a healthy lifestyle. Companies can help promote an active lifestyle by providing employees with health club discounts, or even by providing an on-site fitness center in the workplace.
  • Support for parents – Balancing a personal life with raising children can be extremely difficult. Employers can help their employees find this balance by offering parent coaching or discounts for childcare facilities.

Learn More About Employee Wellness Programs From Our Experts

Employee wellbeing should be a main priority for all businesses. Looking out for the best interests of your employees is the right thing to do and is also beneficial for the bottom line of the business. Employee wellness programs offer numerous benefits for both employees and employers.

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