Employee Wellness: How Broad is Too Broad?
Heidi Zwart
employee wellness

Do one-size-fits-all wellness solutions work? Rarely. Yet, too often these kinds of standardized programs are the go-to solution for supporting employee wellbeing. Programs that are too broad and too generalized don’t have the intended positive impact on employee wellness. While the employee population may value this benefit, the ROI for organizations is limited or nonexistent. Be aware of programming that is too broad to be an effective employee wellness solution. 

How Broad is Too Broad?

  1. Workplace Challenges

While it seems that friendly competition and peer accountability would be a good incentive to encourage healthier behaviors, these programs don’t reach the people who most need help making lifestyle changes. Those who participate in these kinds of broad employee wellness challenges are already inclined to improve their health. The employees who need the most help improving their nutrition, exercise, or sleep habits most often sit on the sidelines. Rolling out a company wide step challenge or biggest loser type of competition will have diminishing returns. 97% of the people who do lose weight will gain it back without a more customized solution.

  1. Gym Memberships

Similarly, gym memberships will be used by employees who already want to spend time improving their health. Statistics indicate that this kind of membership only provides a benefit for about 10-15% of employees who would have joined one anyway. Incentives like this may seem like a valuable benefit for your population, but the effectiveness of this broad employee wellness offering is limited. Likewise, having in-house fitness opportunities will only attract those who are already motivated to work out while those who aren’t will continue to bypass the opportunity, despite its convenience. 

  1. Physical Health Only Solutions

A theme that emerges in the previous two examples of broad employee wellness programs is the emphasis on changes to physical health only. While physical ailments account for a large percentage of healthcare costs, mental health concerns contribute to absenteeism and are intertwined with physical wellbeing issues. Results from a recent study indicate that mental health interventions yield the best return on investment (ROI) for employers and offer a variety of solutions, including work-life balance training, counseling, and meditation classes. One program showed a sixty-fold return on their initial investment. 

What’s the alternative?

When choosing an employee wellness solution that’s not too broad, look at the unique needs of your employee population. Consider the challenges that are specific to your workplace and know what’s costing you the most money. Solutions nowadays have to take into account employee wellness for remote workers. Using a variety of information from biometric screenings, employee surveys, demographic awareness, manager reports, or location considerations can help better target solutions that are customizable for your population. Holistic employee wellness support is crucial. 

Tips for success in customized programming

  1. Get leadership buy-in. Programs with middle management support averaged an ROI of ten times their initial investments. 
  2. Measure impact. Choose a solution that provides success metrics so you know exactly how effective your programming is for those you most want to help.

If you need help making your employee wellness program less broad and more targeted to the people who most need help, consider partnering with BetterYou. Let your employees set health and wellness goals they care about and watch as their health and happiness improves.  

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

Want to learn how?