Human Resources News & Insights

Massive study shows true return on wellness plan investment

Upper management is rarely willing to sink money into wellness ideas that are based on conclusions drawn from a single survey or two, and for good reason. But it’s hard to ignore this data that shows a whopping return on investment (ROI) for wellness initiatives.

The American Journal of Health Promotion performed an analysis of 56 published studies on work site health promotion programs to determine the true ROI and impact of wellness programs.

More accurate wellness ROI measures

According to the American Journal of Health Promotion’s in-depth analysis, employers with work site health promotion programs see on average:

  • a 27% reduction in sick leave absenteeism
  • 26% reduction in health costs, and
  • 32% decrease in workers’ compensation and disability claims.

But the most important finding has to do with all-around wellness ROI. For every dollar invested in wellness, employers saw an average savings of $5.81 due to improved employee health and reduced medical claims. That’s significantly higher than the wellness ROI figures of $3 to $4 for every dollar invested that are more commonly reported.

What it means

One of the biggest obstacles preventing top-level executives from investing heavily in wellness initiatives is a lack of good info on the effectiveness of these initiatives to improve the bottom line.

In fact, an overwhelming 89% of small and mid-sized employers recently told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) they’d increase their investment into employee wellness initiatives if they could better quantify their impact.

Passing along more detailed data — like the findings from the American Journal of Health Promotion analysis — should help convince execs the more heavily the company invests in wellness, the better it will be for their organization long term.

Source: Based on “Benefits Strategies: Using Data to Build and Drive Your Plan,” a presentation by Mark Schmit, VP, Research, SHRM, at the 2012 SHRM Conference in Atlanta.

Print Friendly

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest Human Resources news and insights delivered to your inbox.


  1. Could you share the citation of the study from the AJHP that you reference in the article. I’d like to review further detail on the data/info from that source. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the article. Can you please give me a link or site the specific issue of American Journal of Health Promotion and article title so I can learn more about that analysis?

  3. Could you please give the citation for the American Journal of Health Promotion meta-analysis? Thank you.

  4. Christian Schappel Christian Schappel says:

    Here is the original study Mr. Schmit referenced:

    Meta-evaluation of worksite health promotion economic return
    studies: 2005 update. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2005, 19(6), 1-11

  5. A mediocre paper, at best. Simply restates/rehashes many of the simplistic (and often unverifiable) claims of health promotion experts. Polyglot of studies, many of which are poorly done and by the author’s own criteria, are unreliable. The above article demonstrates the kind of cluelessness often seen in reporting on this issue: no insight and an apparent inability to actually read an entire paper and report it in a meaningful manner, instead of just parroting the author’s/journal’s press release.

Speak Your Mind