Employee Assistance Programs


As reported in an Ipsos-Reid study released March 18, 2004 the main preventable contributors to employee absenteeism are:

  • Depression/anxiety/other mental health disorders – 66%
  • Stress – 60%
  • [Negative] Relationship with supervisor or manager – 44%
  • Co-worker conflict in the workplace – 28%

Other factors prompting employees to call in sick are:

  • Childcare issues – 24%
  • Parenting issues – 21%
  • Addictions or substance use/abuse issues – 20%
  • Eldercare issues – 19%

What measures is your company taking to reduce stress and improve the environment for your employees? How much can you save in lost productivity by initiating a few changes to your corporate culture?

For well over a decade, research has been showing the effectiveness of Employee Wellness Programs. For every dollar spent on a Corporate Wellness Program, the returns have been cost savings of between $2.30 and $10.10 in the areas of decreased absenteeism, fewer sick days, reduced WSIB/WCB claims, lowered health and insurance costs, and improvements to employee performance and productivity.

In Canada, only 23.9% of companies reported that they have been evaluating their wellness programs regularly, which makes management unclear on the full scope of benefits being realized.

Statistics do show that a healthy organization increases employee morale, improves the ability to attract and retain key people, all while having more alert and productive employees. Some statistics of note:

  • Canada Life Insurance reported a return of $3.43 on their fitness program, and an overall return on investment of $6.85 on each corporate dollar invested on reduced turnover (32.4% lower), productivity gains and decreased medical claims,
  • DuPont’s Worksite Health Promotion pilot sites saw a saving of 11,726 disability days and a return of U.S. $2.05 for every dollar invested by the end of the second year,
  • The Canadian government’s corporate wellness programs returned $1.95-$3.75 per employee per dollar spent (as reported by Dr. Roy Shephard),
  • Municipal employees in Toronto, missed 3.35 fewer days in the first six months of their “Metro Fit” fitness programs than employees not enrolled in the program,
  • British Columbia Hydro employees enrolled in a work-sponsored fitness program had a turnover rate of just 3.5% compared with a company average of 10.3%,
  • Johnson & Johnson estimated an average saving of U.S. $224.66 per employee per year for the four years examined after the program introduction, with the bulk of the savings being in the third and fourth years,
  • Pacific Bell reported that overall absenteeism decreased after implementing a program,
  • Coca Cola report saving $500 every year per employee after implementing a fitness program, with only 60% of their employees participating,
  • Coors Brewing Co. reported that for each dollar spent on their Corporate Wellness Program they saw a $5.50 return, and the employees who participated reduced their absentee rate by 18%, and
  • Prudential Insurance Company reported that the benefits costs for employees participating in their program were $312, as opposed to $574 for non-participants

As you can see, a properly implemented program affects the bottom line as much as it builds goodwill.