What are Wellness Benefits?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Wellness benefits are simple to complex things offered by an employer to its employees to encourage healthy behavior that may improve overall health. They may be offered in the context of medical insurance, which might have a wellness program attached to it that subscribing employees could access. Alternately companies may choose to add certain amenities to the workplace in order to help employees pursue healthier lifestyles or they might provide access to nutritional, exercise or mental health counseling on a short-term basis. Another way in which the term wellness benefits could be understood is as incentives when employees meet certain health objectives. Many employers feel that that these benefits serve employees and the company, because they reduce things like medical insurance costs and sick time, and because they may result in a healthier workforce.

Some health insurance companies will provide incentives through wellness benefits to help an insured person quit using tobacco products.
Some health insurance companies will provide incentives through wellness benefits to help an insured person quit using tobacco products.

It’s a growing trend for health insurance companies to have benefits of some kind to promote wellness. These could include providing informational materials to subscribers on subjects like healthy diet, cardiovascular health, or quitting tobacco use. Some insurance companies will pay for employees to participate in programs designed to increase health like tobacco subsistence programs, and others merely offer information and advice, that if subscribers follow, is likely to assist in healthier living. Sometimes encouraging employees to get regular scans or physical exams at certain ages is thought of as part of wellness benefits, since this gives doctors the opportunity to help patients that have any markers or risks for diseases.

A wellness benefit could include yearly medical screenings.
A wellness benefit could include yearly medical screenings.

Obviously, health insurance led programs confer benefits in several ways. For insurers, they may reduce total cost of claims paid, which maximizes profits. This assists employers too, because a healthier workforce translates to less expensive premiums. Additionally, employees may be served by these programs because by following the advice given by insurance companies on how to lead more healthful lives, they may truly improve health.

Wellness benefits are offered by companies to promote healthy lifestyle habits among employees.
Wellness benefits are offered by companies to promote healthy lifestyle habits among employees.

Of course, some people won’t read insurance sites to find out how to be healthy, and this has led many companies to pursue offering benefits promoting wellness on a much more direct level. Having access to a free gym and wellness classes on site at the company may be easier for a lot of people. It’s an ever-present reminder that part of healthful living means working out regularly. With no fees to pay and easy access before or after work or during lunch hour, this is one benefit that can prove very helpful, especially if the gym is staffed by knowledgeable trainers who can watch over workers so they don’t get injured. A cafeteria on a worksite with lots of nutritious food may provide the same kinds of benefits.

Physical training offers a wellness benefit.
Physical training offers a wellness benefit.

Employers may also encourage employees to access wellness benefits through incentive based programs. These could include financial rewards or prizes for participating in wellness activities like training for a marathon or quitting smoking. When offered in context of many onsite benefits, great encouragement can exist for the employee to participate.

There are wellness benefits that might prove of use including things like free access to short term mental health, drug, or financial counseling, through programs like the Employee Assistance Program. These tend to be prepaid by an employer so they require no copayments. Moreover they’re usually offered through whatever health insurance coverage is available to the employee. They may not fix bigger problems but they’re often a good first stop for advice on how to deal with life’s stressors or for how to tackle a specific issue.

Many ways exist in which wellness benefits can be defined, but it seems that more dramatic gestures by companies don’t go unappreciated by their employees. Not only can these programs contribute to greater health, but they can also make employees feel less like part of an impersonal workforce. When a business makes a strong statement that it cares about the health and welfare of its employees, workers may respond not only by getting healthier but also by evolving stronger loyalty to their companies.

Employee relations specialist might offer employees wellness incentives for quitting unhealthy behavior.
Employee relations specialist might offer employees wellness incentives for quitting unhealthy behavior.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


There are many people who are talking about benefits. I agree that it has benefits, if the person does these types of things regularly.


This is about profit for the health insurance company and the company you are working for - period. These same entities don't care or offer health care after you retire. So neither really cares about your health. What they care about is their bottom line.

Just like, don't believe a policeman when they give you a ticket for seatbelts and they say, "it's about your safety" or a teacher wanting a tax levy passed because "it's about the children." No, it's about money!


I couldn't agree less. Especially insurance "wellness benefits" are often offered at the cost of real benefits such as compensation for health care claims.

I find these benefits an absolute irritant. They are a substitution for real comprehensive health care and are directly opposed to underhanded insurance policies of failing to pay on claims or denying claims.

I suggest we pay basic comprehensive health benefits first-- for example, bring down the cost of co-payments so employees don't delay seeing a doctor if they need to do so.

Given true access to proper care, then, maybe wellness benefits start to make sense, but in absence of it, they seem like window dressing that insults employees who can't afford their co-payments, deductibles, or who cannot reduce the stress they have from fighting it out with insurance companies or employers for sensible coverage of basic health care.


Corporate wellness program benefits benefit the employee and the company as well. It is a true win-win situation.

Also, when an employee exercises daily, they tend to handle stress better, which is important in the workplace when you're dealing with stressful situations all the time. This is one of the best health and wellness benefits of all.


Many employers understand that workplace wellness benefits really enhance the employees' lifestyle and lead to higher productivity.

This lifestyle enhancement for the better includes fewer trips to the doctor and less time away from work. Many wellness program benefits include providing an on-site gym for the employees to work out before work, on their lunch hour, or after work.

It also includes subsidizing a gym club membership so that employees can work out without the burden of paying for the membership. It can also include sponsoring weight-loss programs as well.

Corporate wellness programs can also encourage its employees to continue healthy lifestyles. They can sponsor races and provide counseling for those that need to quit smoking for example. These are some benefits of employee wellness programs.

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