Corporate Wellness “Benefits” Now Money Making Penalties: Harming Obesity, Diabetes

spending on wellness plans

Almost every major corporation now offers wellness benefits and they’ve invested billions in corporate wellness plans.  Annual costs have skyrocketed over the last 5 years to nearly $600 per employee.

The results of these efforts?  Let’s go multiple choice for this one:

A) Obesity showing a sharp reversal?

For more info:  Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways

B) Diabetes trending downward?

For more info:  Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012

C) Big time cost savings for employers and employees?

For more info:  Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work? Usually Not – The New York Times.

D) Happy employees who are excited about their wellness benefits?

For more info:  EEOC Files Suit Over Wellness Program – United Benefit

E)  None of the above

Answer:  E  None of the above which led to this study being released in Feb 2015:

study to disband


That depends.

The answer is YES IF:

Employers are going to chase a better rate of return (ROI) at all costs by shifting costs to employees through increasing penalties and out of pocket costs for those who are not compliant with the plan.    Turning an employee benefit into a penalty nightmare is a potential costly mistake.  Any ROI that could be achieved with this new “penalty nightmare” approach is likely to backfire with the high costs associated with disgruntled employees.

study no evidence

Perhaps a more important reason to disband corporate wellness plans related to weight loss and fitness is they were and continue to be destined to fail.  The science is overwhelmingly clear that “healthy lifestyle” plans that include any dietary restrictions or required exercise have a complete reversal of any short term results within 2-5 years.  Why should any corporate executive be surprised that the plan worked EXACTLY as all the scientific research said it would over 5 years?  Why they should continue to invest in such plans is the much better question.

study overscreening

Then answer is NO IF:

Employers can design wellness benefits that have absolutely no penalties associated with them whatsoever.   A wellness plan that focuses on education and access without requirement to participate, or any implication of shame for not participating has a real chance of success as well.

Not only would this approach to a wellness benefit plan insure the plan is perceived as a true employee benefit, but that is the only approach that is supported by the science related to lifestyle changes.   There is no guarantee this will produce a substantial ROI for corporations when looked at in a vacuum, but improved employee morale and productivity should always be considered when it comes to the ROI of offering employee benefits of any kind.


We’re at a very dangerous juncture in the evolution of Wellness Benefit Programs.  The idea of “wellness or else” is horrible and will fail both at the corporate ROI and employee level.  For maximum ROI, employers would do well to consider prior expenses paid towards wellness benefits as a sunk cost, and redesign their wellness benefit programs to truly offer a meaningful benefit to employees (that employees perceive as a benefit!) at the lowest possible cost.

For more information on EET Fitness’ completely new solutions for Employee Wellness Plans, contact us at






go easy fitness cover Boot camp

We are in the process of getting some reviews of our new fitness book, and have already gotten some great and helpful feedback we’ll share soon!

Those interested can now also take a  “look inside” on Amazon HERE –you can read the intro and contents and get a feel for the book.  If you do buy it and it’s not formatted well on your device, shoot us an email at and we can send you the PDF at no extra cost of course.

More about Go Easy Fitness coming soon.


giant donut 2015 after


Over the next several weeks, while we’re being reviewed, I’ll be answering specific questions about Go Easy Fitness and you can learn how to succeed much more quickly by joining the discussion at  The EET Community today!   You’ll likely hear from several EET clients who are successfully using the Go Easy Routines too!  Go HERE to check out the discussions already in progress!

Please read the Community Guidelines on the post in the community to help our discussion be really helpful to all!

  Questions?  Contact us at     Click here if you want to sign up for EET.


disclaimer oct 2012


2 thoughts on “Corporate Wellness “Benefits” Now Money Making Penalties: Harming Obesity, Diabetes

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