Do Workplace Wellness Programs Actually Work?

Here at Fabulous, we recognize the value of workplace wellness, and we’re not alone. According to NPR, workplace wellness programs are currently an $8 billion industry in the United States alone. Corporate wellness is a booming market and companies all over the world are courting with the idea of bringing programs to their own companies in an effort to cut health care costs. But do these programs actually work?


The answer is long and complicated. But the short answer is: Yes they can.

The Problem With Workplace Wellness Programs

Because a lot of variables go into making such programs work, their benefits can be difficult to prove. Such programs have been around since at least the 1970s in the U.S. But it wasn’t until the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that their popularity really took off. “Obamacare” offered financial incentives to companies that took a proactive approach to their employees’ health by offering various health initiatives like annual screenings or flu shots.

But whether these initiatives actually succeed can vary as widely as the types of programs offered. Unfortunately, the data reflects this inconsistency. There are just as many studies documenting the successes of these programs as there are documenting their failures.

Critics claim that wellness programs aren’t worth what businesses put into them. They cite a lack of enthusiasm from employees and relatively unchanged profit margins as their evidence. On the other hand, those in favor of these programs argue that their benefits are hard to pin down on a spreadsheet. They also point out that the benefits can take a while to gain a foothold in the business numbers. No matter how efficient your workplace wellness program is, no initiative can cure every one of your entire company’s health ailments by the end of the quarter.

Obviously, there are a lot of variables to consider when measuring the success of workplace wellness programs. But who is right? As we’ll explain below, it turns out that both sides are telling the truth.

You Need a Clear Direction and Unique Experiences for Employees

We mentioned earlier that not all workplace wellness programs are alike. Indeed, what companies offer their employees can vary wildly. There is no standard for what to offer, which makes determining the objective success of these programs difficult. 

It should go without saying that a free flu shot is simply not enough to bring about the wellness sea change that companies covet.

In order for a workplace wellness program to successfully bring about positive change, it has to be comprehensive. It should be built from a clear vision of what kind of company culture you hope to develop. And it should be specific to your company. Workplace wellness programs are not one size fits all. They must be tailor-made to fit each employee’s unique and individual needs without being too cumbersome for administrators to implement. Companies have to invest time and resources to make these programs work while not being so labor-intensive that it’s not worth the effort.

In other words, a wellness program is only going to be as good as the clarity of the plan. The more personal and comprehensive your program is, the more benefits you’ll reap from it. If you want the benefits we’ve talked about in previous blog posts—like reduced absenteeism and greater work satisfaction—your company has to be willing to do the work to ensure your employees are happy and healthy.

The Secret to a Successful Workplace Wellness Program

So, now we know the ways a corporate wellness program can go wrong. But how can we ensure that yours goes right? Like we said earlier, data on long-term results can be hard to come by, simply because enough time hasn’t passed yet. We do know, however, that outside of workplace settings, helping people live healthier starts and ends in the same place: our habits.

Our choices, our actions, and our behaviors are all dictated by our habits. In fact, nearly half of what we do in a day is done without even thinking. These habits become so deeply embedded in our brains that we don’t even have to think about it! Imagine if you could harness your daily habits to make better choices without constantly needing to drain your willpower. How different would your life be if a morning workout was as effortless and enjoyable as rolling over and hitting the snooze button?

That is exactly what Fabulous aims to help users achieve.

How Fabulous for Work Is Different

Fabulous for Work is designed to target the behavior of employees and their employers. Like the old saying goes, we are what we repeatedly do. According to Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, 55 percent of our daily actions—over half of what we do every day—are rooted in habit and done without conscious thought. This includes what we eat, whether or not we exercise, and how often we seek preventative health care.

Fabulous takes a two-pronged approach to teaching its users how to develop healthy habits. First, we work one-on-one with your employees to help them set–and accomplish–individual goals, both personal and professional.

Fabulous also works with your organization as a whole to help devise company-wide goals to work toward. Just imagine: as your workers take guided, actionable steps toward improving their individual health, they’re also strengthening the ties between themselves, their colleagues, and their company as a whole.

These positive behavioral changes, combined with other positive company-wide changes, like healthier snack options, stress management workshops, or the implementation of walking meetings, start a domino effect of healthy habits that, in time, lead to those promising savings on health care costs and greater workplace satisfaction.

And the best part? Fabulous for Work is a small investment with big returns. In fact, it requires very little energy or resources on your part! We do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on what you do best: running a successful business. 

Imagine being able to build a positive, energetic company culture, increase collaboration and creativity among your workers, and help them build habits that will make them happier, healthier, and more productive. Talk about fabulous!

Ready to make your company a little more Fabulous? Check out Fabulous for Work to get started!