Workplace Wellness

How to Develop an Effective Wellness Program Budget

Written by Kate

Running a successful corporate wellness program is no easy feat. In fact, many wellness programs fail when their design and implementation leaves something to be desired. For instance, a wellness program offering the most popular provisions and benefits might fall short of achieving its goals if not budgeted appropriately.

Given that over 90% of employees report higher motivation levels at their workplace when their employers implement wellness programs, investing effort into planning is highly worthwhile. Employers need to brainstorm severely to identify the best program design that ensures employee participation and employee engagement. It includes understanding the different facets of wellness and curating a comprehensive wellness program that addresses the diverse needs and interests of employees. 

As one dives into the process of structuring a corporate wellness program, it becomes obvious that there is more to an employee well being program than meets the eye. From day-to-day management to adding elements that contribute to overall workplace success, it can be an intricate framework. And one key component that’s often less talked about is the wellness program budget. 

A wellness budget is the financial fuel of a successful corporate wellness plan. It would be amazing if you could offer the best perks and benefits to your workers. However, you need to decide the cap on your total cost of the program depending on your company’s scale, program complexity, and affordability. 

In this article, we will discuss a wellness program budget example which highlights the key steps organizations must focus on to ensure a positive return on investment.

In this article:

Key Steps in Developing a Wellness Program Budget

Needs Assessment

Corporate wellness programs are primarily for your workforce. So, naturally, their needs and wants would be the ideal compass to determine the wellness budget. 

Therefore, the first step towards figuring out how much money would your company need to invest in an employee wellness initiative is to understand the needs of your staff. And that’s not it. A corporate wellness program also takes into consideration the needs and preferences of your organization. After all, a good wellness program is supposed to benefit both employees and companies. 

Here are some of the most effective ways to gain insights into what workers need to create a tailored corporate wellness program:

1. Surveys

Who is better to offer insights into employee health than employees themselves? Prepare forms and urge your workforce to participate in oral or written surveys where you can ask them questions about their health or preferred wellness interests and activities.

For example, ask your staff if they are offered free employee wellness programs, which three well being programs would they want and why.

2. Focus Groups

Focus group sessions are a great way to encourage workers to openly discuss their wellness and health concerns and preferences. This approach opens up friendly doors where employees get a better understanding of the corporate employee program through their colleagues’ opinions.

interviews and focus groups

3. Interviews

If your company wishes to boost employee engagement in corporate wellness programs and genuinely support employees in their wellness journey, one-on-one interviews are one of the best ways. It allows you to uncover specific health goals so that you can create ultra-personalized wellness programs. Moreover, such interviews offer privacy to the individuals, and they can be more transparent about what they need.

4. Health Risk Assessments

If you want to identify common health issues among your workforce, conduct health risk assessments. Also known as health risk appraisal, these assessments can detect individual health by highlighting health issues, such as high blood pressure or risk of heart disease. They can also highlight the reasons behind them, such as a lack of healthy food habits or absence of physical activity or other healthy habits in routine.

5. Biometric Screening

If you want to identify potential health risks in your workforce to craft a comprehensive wellness program, biometric screening can provide valuable health data. It involves conducting various health screenings to determine health key indicators like blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, body fat, and more.

Once you’re equipped with staff health information, it’s time to analyze organizational data to understand company needs. Review company metrics, such as absenteeism, turnover, engagement, performance, and current health care costs, to identify areas of improvement and opportunity. 

For example, if you observe higher absenteeism during the monsoon, you can analyze if it’s due to seasonal illness. The health screenings’ data can further help you create a tailored employee wellness plan within an average budget.

Set Goals and Objectives

Now let’s dive into the second step of the wellness budget which is all about transforming your employee wellness thoughts into actionable and concrete plans. However, before you jump straight into it, you need to define clear and meaningful goals and objectives. 

One might imagine that this step should come easily, especially since you now have a clear picture of the needs. It is true, but only if you start by defining your outcomes. 

It’s just like going on a road trip. You don’t just start driving the car if you don’t have a destination in mind, right? Well, your employee wellness programs work the same way — with clear and defined objectives. It can be improving the emotional well being of your employees, offering a wellness platform to your workforce, or boosting productivity. 

set goals for a wellness program budget

Moreover, objectives shouldn’t be just aspirations. For example, “We will provide a wellness platform to our employees and improve their physical and mental health by regular health coaching.” is a vague and undefined goal. 

Instead, aim at actionable and result-driven objectives and goals. For example, “We will increase the participation rate of our employee wellness programs by 50% in the next six months.”

Don’t worry – you can easily set measurable goals by applying the SMART framework, which means:

  • Specific: No ambiguity, no confusion. Clearly address what you want to achieve. 
  • Measurable: Put quantifiable metrics in place so that you can measure the progress. 
  • Achievable: Your objective should be realistic and achievable with the available resources. No building castles in the air.
  • Relevant: Ensure the objective aligns with your overall organizational purpose, employee needs, and broader objectives.
  • Time-bound: Set a defined and realistic timeline within which you should be able to accomplish your objectives.

Estimating Costs

The next step in the development of the dollar spent on the employee wellness plan is estimating costs and benefits. This is where numbers do the talking!

You see, corporate wellness programs are a mixed bag. When you are designing them, various expenses are bound to come up. Similarly, there will be several benefits that will make your investment in employee well being worthwhile. If you wish to create a well-rounded corporate wellness program, you need to anticipate these expenditures and benefits beforehand. Costs may involve:

  • Staff Time: Your human resources department may need to form a special team to oversee the corporate wellness programs. It will cost your organization hours, labor, and resources. 
  • Materials: It may include any kind of educational materials, pamphlets, brochures, or online resources to promote the launch of your wellness plan.
  • Equipment: f health screenings and physical fitness are a part of your wellness plan, you may need the necessary equipment to conduct the procedures.
  • Incentives: Workers need motivation in the form of incentives to join a corporate wellness program. You may need to add benefits based incentives to your healthcare costs, such as gift cards, coupons, or free sessions. 
  • Communication: The success of a wellness incentive program depends on how well you communicate its details to your staff. Add newsletters, emails, and promotional campaigns to the wellness program cost.
  • Evaluation: In the long run, you need to assess the effectiveness of your corporate wellness programs through data collection, surveys, assessments, and analytics tools.
  • Administration: Implementing and managing a corporate wellness program would incur administrative costs, such as online management tools, legal compliance, and logistical support.

Estimating Benefits

  • Savings from Reduced Health Care Claims: When workers adopt healthy lifestyles, their requests for health care claims go down, helping the organization save healthcare costs.
  • Decreased Absenteeism: When workers focus on their health and get health coaching from their employers, they are less likely to fall ill frequently. It would lead to lower rates of absenteeism and increased productivity.
  • Reduced Turnover: Surveys found that organizations that have a high number of employee wellness programs have an 11% lower turnover rate than others. So, voila, you save money on recruitment and training costs. 
  • Savings on Workers’ Compensation: A healthier workforce means fewer workplace injuries or illnesses, which decreases the number of claims for workers’ compensation.
  • Increased Engagement and Morale: Good corporate wellness programs keep employees motivated and satisfied, which positively affects the workplace culture. It also boosts employee morale, resulting in a higher return on investment.

Communicate the Budget and Plan

Now comes one of the most crucial steps in implementing comprehensive wellness programs – gaining the approval and support of senior leadership for the budget. 

You see, if workplace wellness programs are the ship of the ocean, the senior employer group is like a compass, navigating their direction. If you want to get their buy-in and support for your set plan, prepare to present your wellness budget and program in a clear, logical, and structured manner.

Here are some of the tips to ensure you are successful in getting the approval:

  • Be transparent and clear about the estimated costs per employee and expected returns on investment in the program.
  • Prepare a breakdown of budget allocation to different facets of the employee health program. 
  • Highlight the benefits and value workplace wellness programs can offer in terms of healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism, and improved retention.
  • Be honest about the potential roadblocks and challenges and offer plausible solutions.
setting a clear goal for wellness

Monitor and Evaluate Progress

Voila, once you get the approval from your employer, you can implement the employee wellness plan. However, that’s not it. Now comes the critical step of monitoring your program and evaluating its progress. 

First and foremost, determine if the wellness plan is meeting your predefined goals and objectives by tracking the key performance indicators (KPIs). This data will show you whether the wellness initiative is well on track or not. If not, don’t worry – the insights will also identify the areas of improvement to help refocus your efforts. 

Additionally, take feedback from the hero of your wellness plans – your workforce. Their experiences and suggestions are crucial to refine your wellness initiative further. 

Based on the data and staff feedback, measure the results of your employee wellness plan. Once you compare both tangible and intangible outcomes, fine-tune your initiatives to refine your future results.

Learn and Improve

The wellness industry is a dynamic one. What’s relevant and healthy today might become a passing trend tomorrow. Therefore, your wellness team needs to explore and embrace emerging wellness trends and technologies.

For example, paid time off was not a normal ask for the boomer generation. However, millennials and Gen Z find it a necessity. Or AI-based fitness mobile apps may make a big entry in the coming years.

To keep your finger on the pulse of the industry, collaborate with organizations, fitness centers, or wellness experts to bring fresh perspectives to the table. Moreover, don’t restrict yourself to one type of wellness program. As your organization grows, experiment with new wellness initiatives. 

Lastly, keep yourself updated with the latest published studies and findings to offer relevant, effective, and valuable employee wellness programs.

Final Thoughts

Your employees are an asset to your organization. Investing in them is one of the most important expenses of your company. So, while determining the cost of a wellness plan can be tricky, it can yield impressionable returns.

However, if you’re still worried about wellness budget allocation and cost determination, take IncentFit’s help. We are a leading employee wellness provider who develops tailored plans for your company and employees. Sign up for a demo today to create a happier and healthier workforce. 

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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