Do wellness investments pay off?

Large, randomized study shows mixed results, highlighting challenges of programs
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/30/2019

Are wellness programs really worth the investment? It’s a broad question for a broad issue, but one study has found the gains might not be as hoped. And that could have a lot to do with the objectives of such a program.

“If employers were implementing these programs in the hopes that they would save money over the first year or two, we don’t find any evidence to support that. If they were implementing these programs in the hopes of improving employee health behaviours and providing a benefit that employees value, we do find evidence to support it,” said Katherine Baicker, co-author of the study and adjunct professor of health policy and economics in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The issue of wellness and return on investment (ROI) is complex, said Farrell Cahill, post-doctoral fellow at Medisys Health Group and Horizon Occupational Health Solutions in St. John’s.