Wellness Programs, Benefits, and Wages

In an interview with WELCOA President David Hunnicutt, Wendy Lynch provided a disquieting revelation about the way corporate wellness programs are often administrated.

“When you look at the economic studies, you’ll find evidence that every dollar that a company spends on benefits of any kind comes not from corporate profits, but from wages. So essentially, the company is taking a dollar out of an employee’s pocket and then handing it back to him or her in the form of some sort of benefit.”

Unfortunately, no citations were given in the interview transcript to corroborate this statement, but it is a rather common occurrence. Think of companies (and employees) you know who are willing to trade a percentage of salary for health plan benefits. Don’t forget, wellness programs are part of the benefits scheme.

Know of a few? a lot? Yeah, me too. I freely admit to having been willing to give up some salary if the benefits of the job are superior.

Of course, some people don’t realize that this happens, and think that they have a pretty sweet deal.

I wonder what they’d say if they knew their deal could be sweeter.

Granted, the putrid economy of late hasn’t done great things for many companies’ bottom lines, and benefits costs are a significant expense. You can’t necessarily fault companies for wanting to focus on stock price and yearly profit numbers, because that’s what many investors currently focus on.

At the same time, most finance departments look at wellness program and health costs as just another figure in the spreadsheet. They don’t go deeper because they evaluate neither the effectiveness of their wellness programs, nor the medical expenses that could be reduced/eliminated (medication, hospital stays, etc.). They take a very superficial measure of health, and they take a very superficial view on benefits and wages:

Just another number in the spreadsheet.

In larger corporations, wellness programs (and their associated health plan benefits) and wages shouldn’t have to be a zero-sum game. You don’t have to take from one and give to the other when you’re banking 7+ figure profits each year.

With better evaluation methods, corporate wellness programs and wages can easily co-exist without having to take from one to give to the other.

Does your company fully evaluate its wellness program? Do you give some salary in exchange for better benefits? Share below.

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