Even if your employees do not use the wellness plans you offer them, those same plans still help boost employee loyalty, a new study has found.

Chances are that by virtue of your organization offering wellness plans, your employees appreciate it and will be more likely to recommend your business as a good place to work, the study by Optum, a health services company owned by UnitedHealth Group, found.

The findings reflect the advantages of wellness plans in attracting and retaining talent.

The more expansive your offerings, the more loyalty you foster, the study found. For example, it found that at workplaces that offer more than seven health and wellness programs:

  • The employer is almost twice as likely to retain current employees, and
  • Employees are three times as likely to recommend their company as a place to work.

One of the striking findings from the survey was that 29% of employees who don’t participate in any of their employer’s wellness programs are still likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. Optum researchers concluded that this was because if the employer offers a wellness program, it makes them feel like the company cares for them as employees.

That said, 48% of workers who frequently participate in health and wellness programs were extremely likely to recommend their employer as a place to work.

And the more wellness offerings an employer has, the more likely their employees are to recommend them as a good place to work:

  • 53% of survey respondents said they’d recommend their company if it provided seven or eight wellness programs.
  • 30% of survey respondents said they’d recommend their company if it provided four to six programs.
  • 24% of survey respondents said they’d recommend their company if it provided one to four programs.
  • 18% of respondents said they would recommend their employer even if it offered no plans.

The most popular offerings

A well-rounded benefits package ideally combines great medical coverage with fitness programs, support groups and healthy office conditions.

Here are the most sought-after wellness plans that Optum survey participants cited:

  • Biometric screenings and preventative health assessments.
  • Programs to improve health, like wellness coaching, on-site medical clinics.
  • Discounted prescriptions.
  • Having a physical work environment that supports healthy decisions (sit/stand desks, healthy food, on-site fitness centers).
  • Smoking cessation program.
  • Weight loss program.
  • Chronic-condition management program.
  • Employee assistance programs.
  • Programs to help workers stay healthy and prevent illnesses, such as flu shots, gym discounts and fitness challenges.

Optum recommends that as an employer, you should:

  • Focus on working with the biggest users of your wellness program to recruit others into the program. “Promoters are your most valuable employees. They’re most likely to participate in your programs and, possibly as a result, they experience less stress and more satisfaction at work,” Optum writes.
  • Focus on trying to win over those who might shun your plans by finding out what their needs are (they may have issues in their life, like financial or relationship problems that your offerings may not address). There may be a low-cost solution to meeting their needs as well.
    You can find out by circulating a survey and finding out where your wellness program may be falling short and asking workers what they’d like to see in a wellness plan. The best option is to have a number of choices, so they can just check boxes.