Journalist and health advocate Naomi Freundlich disagrees with Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll. In an article for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she offers a brighter perspective. For starters, definitions of what constitute a wellness “program” actually vary, so calling some extremely basic “programs” ineffective could be a case of “well, duh.” Thus, some statistics might be skewed. As for the rest of the programs out there, the difference between failure and success comes down to the same old factors: “a combination of good design built on behavior change theory, effective implementation using evidence-based practices, and credible measurement and evaluation,” according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
In Freundlich’s experience observing wellness programs that emphasize best practices and evolution based on employee feedback, she found “increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, fewer accidents, lower turnover, increased ability to attract top talent, and medical costs that grow slower than industry norms.” If we believe this, then that places us back to square one—the only thing stopping us from a useful wellness program is our execution. You can view the full article here: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/institute-for-health-and-productivity-studies/ihps-blog/do-workplace-wellness-programs-work-yes-but-it-depends