Taking the Pulse of Corporate Wellness

Alex Howe

It’s a new year. You’ve made your health-tastic resolutions. But will your employer help you make them a reality?

Many companies offer wellness programs; unfortunately, not all of them work. As with so many corporate initiatives, employers are happy to tell you how great a job they’re doing. But how to know what the actual day-to-day inside the company is like? You need reliable sources, like journalists and researchers—and real employees sharing their real opinion on kununu.

Harvard Business Review took a close look at how to help employees get healthy. As it turns out, paying people directly to achieve certain health goals isn’t a good long-term solution; in fact, “they may lead to resentment and even rebellion among workers.” When it’s extra cash versus extra donuts, the results can be messy.

What works? Per HBR: smart quantitative measurement, a carefully built “culture of health,” and actually asking employees what they would find helpful. In other words, what’s true for your day-to-day health is true for companies’ wellness programs: shortcuts don’t work.

Which employers are actually achieving results? One big winner is no surprise: Google. Mashable listed them as one of the best performers in corporate wellness, as did Greatist. Googlers literally don’t have to go far for healthy outcomes: the company provides on-site doctors, swimming pools, and fitness classes. This level of concern for their workers makes a difference; Google currently boasts an average kununu rating of 4.06 out of 5.

Full commitment from an employer is crucial for healthier employees. The HBR article spotlights Dow Chemical, which has prioritized wellness for decades. Today, “countless peer-reviewed studies [show] that employees’ health has improved and company costs have been contained.” Sure enough, their commitment is reflected in employee appreciation; Dow rates a 4.24 on kununu, making them one of our best-reviewed companies. Dow’s initiatives include offering counseling, exercise spaces, and a comprehensive smoking cessation program.

Hopefully, many others will follow their example in 2017. No doubt, some employers will choose to help their employees of their own volition. But many companies are reluctant to make changes that they don’t have to make. That’s why spreading knowledge about actual workplace conditions is so important to us; more transparency means better taken-care-of employees.