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5 Surprising Facts About Employee Access to Wellness Programs and Benefits

Corporate wellness programs can help boost employee health and lower healthcare costs. Learn more about these programs, and how public health and health education professionals can shape them.

Losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more—if you have one of these health goals, perhaps your employer offers a wellness program to help you reach it. Employers with a corporate wellness program help the health of their company when they support the health of their employees. While not all companies offer one, you should understand the advantages if your employer does and decide how to best participate. Here are a few interesting facts:


Corporate Wellness Programs Are Growing

In 2019, the Integrated Benefits Institute reported that chronic illness and injury among workers costs employers $575 billion each year in productivity losses, or $3,900 per employee.1 Keeping workers safe and healthy is a growing priority for employers, who are investing increasing amounts into wellness programs. To meet this demand, the number of businesses catering to corporate wellness in the U.S. has grown an average of 3.1% per year between 2017 and 2022.2

Government Workers Have Better Access to Employee Wellness Programs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64% of state and local government workers in 2021 had access to health and wellness programs through their employers, while only 42% of workers in private industry had such benefits.3 In the lowest 10% wage group, 15% of private industry workers and 57% of state and local government workers had access to wellness programs. In the highest 10% wage group, 69% of private industry workers and 55% of state and local government workers had access to wellness programs.  

Six in 10 Employees With Wellness Programs Don’t Use Them

A 2017 survey of 3,420 full-time workers across different industries and company sizes in the U.S—with 3,215 working in the private sector—showed that one-quarter of the workers had access to employer-provided health and wellness programs.4 However, more than six in 10 reported that they didn’t take advantage of these benefits.

Health and Wellness Can Pay Off

When employees use the benefits offered in wellness programs, employers really can see measurable results. Since it has started offering health and wellness benefits to employees, the University of Louisville has reported significant healthcare savings; lowered health risks among staff; and better physical, social, mental, and financial well-being among employees.5 The benefits include financial incentives, a wellness center free to employees, smoking cessation classes, personal coaching, and even financial workshops. For every $1 the university has invested in wellness programs, it has seen $7 in healthcare savings.

Employee Wellness Programs Can Have Mixed Results

Unfortunately, not all wellness programs work. While the main goals of corporate wellness programs are improving employee health and lowering healthcare costs, sometimes these goals go unmet. A study published in 2018 found that employee access to a workplace health and wellness benefit program that offered financial incentives for completing each step in the program did not change employee behavior very much.6 Cash incentives did not greatly boost employee participation in the wellness program, nor did the benefits lead to lower healthcare costs or improved health. In addition, the people who participated tended to be healthy people with already low healthcare costs.

Earn a Degree Online With the Master of Public Health or MS in Health Education and Promotion Program

There are rewarding jobs in public health that can help you shape corporate wellness programs. Walden University is an accredited university offering bachelor’s programs in public health that include a BS in Health Studies and a BS in Public Health. For those wishing to continue their education, Walden offers a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program as well as an MS in Health Education and Promotion program. Walden’s MPH program gives students a solid foundation in the core areas of public health and a global perspective on real-world public health issues and solutions. All programs are designed to prepare you for a career as a public health professional. 

Public health majors have the knowledge and skill set needed to develop and implement effective public health programs. Walden prepares students for jobs in public health and allows them to earn a college degree using a flexible online learning platform. If you want to improve public health and are ready to earn your master’s, learn more today.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering BS in Health Studies, BS in Public Health, Master of Public Health (MPH), and MS in Health Education and Promotion degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission