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Globe and Mail
AUGUSTA DWYER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 16, 2015

 

Five years ago, Alex Rodov, founder of Toronto-based QA Consultants, decided to set up a wellness program for his company’s employees.

The workers’ exacting and sensitive work for the software testing company’s clients was the main reason behind that decision, said Ryan Abel, QAC’s senior manager of human resources. “If we mess up, there are big problems,” he pointed out. “There’s a lot of money at stake, and we want to keep everyone fit, healthy and mentally sharp.”
From Amazing Race-type team-building exercises to gym memberships that are free as long as they are used at least 12 times a month, QAC’s wellness initiatives have met that goal. They have also created, Mr. Abel said, a happy workplace environment.

“For us,” he added, “it’s more [about] how can we do things better because we want to grow as a company.”

While he hasn’t costed out the financial payback of the programs, Mr. Abel has noted two other positive outcomes: lower turnover and minimal recruiting costs.

Indeed, studies of workplace wellness programs have found clear financial gains for employers. At Bruce Telecom, based in Tiverton, Ont., which has just less than 100 employees, the focus on wellness has saved the company $136,000. Human resources manager Jackie Arnold estimates that $51,000 has been invested in the company’s various wellness strategies.

Allan Stordy, chief executive officer of Calgary-based Arete Human Resources Inc., carried out a study of the results of employee assistance programs, also known as EAPs, in both small and medium-sized businesses in 2013. In it, he said, he found “evidence that performance, based on self-appraisal, improves significantly” among employees who access those programs.

What’s more, their employers made an average net gain of $526 an employee against the average $294 they were losing to absenteeism and low productivity.

“Basically, employees were not performing up to the level given their salary,” he explained. “It was costing the employers, and so after the services there was a net gain.”

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