Workplace Culture

A Healthy Workforce, a Healthy Bottom Line?

By Rita Pyrillis

Feb. 24, 2016

The debate over how much return on investment corporate wellness programs can generate will likely rage on, but a recent study suggests that there is a connection between a healthy workforce and a healthy bottom line.

After analyzing data from 45 publicly traded companies with top-shelf wellness programs, the Health Enhancement Research Organization found that stocks of those companies appreciated 235 percent over a six-year period compared with 159 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The index tracks 500 large publicly traded companies and is the most commonly used measure of the U.S. stock market.

High Performers
Source: Source: HERO wellness study 2016

“We’re not saying conclusively that if you want X amount of return you should invest in wellness, but we can say with confidence that companies that are preforming well on the stock market have this one thing in common: They have high-performing wellness programs,” said Jessica Grossmeier, study co-author and vice president of research at HERO, a nonprofit organization that focuses on employeehealth management research.

The study evaluated the stock performance of companies that scored highest on the HERO Scorecard, an online tool that helps employers assess the strengths and weaknesses of their wellness programs. The online survey was launched with Mercer in 2009 to “create a list of best practices that companies could benchmark against,” according to Steven Noeldner, a study co-author.

Grossmeier emphasized that the survey results merely point to a correlation between stock performance and investment in health and wellness programs, but employers should take note.

“We can’t say that if you invest in wellness your stock is going through the roof, but this study allows us to say that there are broader reasons for doing this than health care cost containment,” she said. “And any time HR can get the attention of their senior leaders around the value proposition for investing in employee health and well-being, it’s a good thing.” 

Rita Pyrillis is a writer based in the Chicago area.

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