Do Corporate Health And Wellness Programs Actually Work?

From an individual’s perspective, the existence of these programs alone can be a helpful first-glance guide to understanding a workplace’s values around employee well-being.

A survey by the American Psychological Association of about 1,500 working people found less than half of them felt like their company cared about their well-being. But 73 percent of workers who had senior management actively supporting company wellness initiatives said their company was helping them develop a healthier lifestyle. That suggests there’s something about the environment in which a company’s culture and leadership focuses on wellness that’s helpful to an employee’s health.

The APA found that this culture of support for company wellness initiatives was associated with a bunch of well-being outcomes for workers: more motivation to do their best at work (91 percent of those with wellness-program-supporting leadership felt this way vs. 38 percent of those in corporate cultures that didn’t prioritize wellness initiatives), more job satisfaction (91 percent vs. 30 percent), and more positive relationships with supervisors (91 percent vs. 54 percent) and co-workers (93 percent vs. 72 percent). Employees in these pro-wellness environments were also more likely to say their company was a good place to work (89 percent vs. 17 percent) and nearly half as likely to say they planned on quitting their job in the next year (25 percent vs. 51 percent).

A 2015 Singaporean study also found organizational support for mindfulness predicts how much mindfulness employees actually practice in the workplace, and that mindfulness was linked with less emotional exhaustion, more job satisfaction, and better job performance. A 2013 Chinese study directly showed well-being initiatives improved employees’ sense of control over their jobs and ability to handle the mental load of the work.

These findings suggest there are still some significant benefits to be gained from workplace wellness programs, particularly for workers’ mental health, for learning healthy practices to pursue outside the workplace, and for demonstrating and recognizing a company that truly cares about its workers’ health without any strings attached.

There’s more work to be done in figuring out how to make these programs more effective, but the fact that nearly half of all American companies offer wellness programs is welcome news. Companies that will prioritize your well-being do exist—and they’re…

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