Maximizing Return On Investment (ROI) for Worksite Wellness Programs

The work site is the ideal place for health and wellness programs. Employees spend more than half of their waking hours at work. According to the Wellness Councils of America, the amount of ROI that can be expected from a wellness program depends on the type of program being implemented. They refer to three different types of programs: (1) Quality of Work Life (QWL) Wellness or “Wellness for Fun and Pleasure;” (2) Traditional or Conventional (ToC) Wellness or “the Safe Approach;” and (3) Health and Productivity Management (HPM) Style Wellness, or “Serious Wellness.”

QWL wellness programs focus primarily on improving the morale of employees. They are intended to add quality to work life and to improve camaraderie and relationships between employer and employees. This approach to worksite wellness involves entirely voluntary activities that are generally selected for the positive effect they are likely to have on employees. The ROI for this type of program is quite low with a cost/benefit ratio from zero to 1:1.5.

ToC wellness programs focus primarily on the passive offering of a more extensive set of interventions than the QWL program model. They are intended to offer a wide range of activities in a smorgasbord-style approach where about half the eligible participants will usually initiate the use of one or more program activities. The intention is to offer, on a voluntary basis, many different worksite-based wellness activities and to have something for everybody. The ROI for this type of program is moderate with a cost/benefit ratio of 1:1.5 to 1:3.5.   

HPM wellness programs focus primarily on the proactive offering of a highly structured and substantial set of interventions than either the QWL program model or the ToC program model. They are intended to provide an infrastructure of health-management activities offered to a large portion of the workforce and their spouses. The core intention of the HPM model is to offer an organized, intentional process of health improvement and health-risk reduction for all participants. The ROI for this type of program is higher than that of the other two program types with a cost/benefit ratio of 1:3.6 to 1:7.0.

Regardless of which model you choose, the ROI on worksite-related wellness activities succeeds on multiple physical, emotional and cultural levels, helps reduce health-care related costs, and increases morale and productivity.

We’ll continue to bring you wellness ROI stories each month, but also encourage you to share your stories with us. Please let us know what you’re doing, how it’s going, and if we can mention your efforts in a future issue of this newsletter. Send your note to

To reap the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!