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Offering Wellness Programs Increase Employee Happiness and Retention


The state of today’s job market has made employee retention much more difficult for employers than in years past.

Job seekers are in the driver’s seat and many of these candidates are currently employed but are open to new opportunities. This can be for any number of reasons, including:

  • Higher salaries
  • Enhanced benefits
  • Better work-life balance
  • Career development and learning
  • Modern workplace perks

Employers must take these and other factors into consideration when exploring how to create or improve their retention strategies. One such example are wellness programs.

A recent study from Optum revealed just how valuable employee wellness/wellbeing programs can be to help with retention.


The survey from Optum was taken by over 1,200 full-time employees at companies with more than 3,000 workers.

The general consensus from the report is that employees who participate in employer-sponsored wellness initiatives are much more likely to be loyal to their employer and say their company is a great place to work.

48% of employees who participate in wellness programs said they would be extremely likely to recommend others to apply to work at their company. To put this percentage into context, let’s see how other worker groups responded to the same question:

  • Employees who never participate in wellbeing programs – 29% would recommend their employer
  • Employees at companies that don’t offer these programs – 18% would recommend their employer

Employee referrals for open positions are one of the best recruiting channels for employers, which helps make talent acquisition easier for the organization. With recruiting currently just as challenging as retention, wellness programs can help improve both of these critical areas of talent management.


The second part of this short survey revealed that workers are more loyal to their employer if offered wellness programs.

When given the choice of seven to eight wellness programs, employees were 1.5 times more likely to stay with their current employer and 3 times more likely to recommend their company to their network as a great place to work compared to employees who didn’t have access to wellbeing programs.

Some categories of wellbeing programs offered by employers include:

  • Tools that help asses health
  • Biometric screenings
  • Access to wellness coaching
  • Onsite medical clinics
  • Disease management programs
  • Fitness challenges

Employers looking to add new perks to their benefit offerings should explore these and other types of wellness programs as they can have significant positive outcomes for recruiting and retention, and the company as a whole.

Working with a broker or exploring alternative solutions like HR outsourcing/PEO could enable even small employers to add these valuable perks to their benefit offerings.


Studies like this one from Optum and others highlight the growing value employee wellness programs can have for employers.

Exploring these benefits could help employers with their talent management troubles, especially as recruiting and retention grow more challenging in the coming years.

Employers shouldn’t underestimate the role wellbeing programs play in today’s job market.

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

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