Australian workplace health and wellbeing programs
Since the late 1980s Australian businesses have recognised the benefits of providing workplace health and wellbeing programs to employees.
Initially, these programs were aimed at senior executives only. They successfully improved executive health outcomes resulting in improvements to productivity, creativity, absenteeism, key-man insurance costs and delaying early retirement due to illness. These improvements delivered a dividend on the program investment making it a sustainable and valuable initiative.
Reflecting these early successes, workplace ‘wellness’ programs in Australia are now increasingly deployed to the broader workforce at an annual cost of $55m  in an effort to deliver:
- Reductions in absenteeism, presenteeism and illness and injury recovery time.
- Improvements in employee performance, engagement and retention.
The business case for workplace wellness initiatives has been well proven through corporate experience and numerous studies in Australia and overseas.
The execution of these programs to a broader workforce can, however, create some difficult challenges.
- The cost of broadening facilitated health programs to larger numbers of employees.
- Providing wellness services to employees in diverse geographical locations – e.g. regional, branch offices, work sites etc.
- Engagement in facilitated programs from employees with the highest absenteeism and presenteeism behaviour is low .
- Employee exclusion from wellness initiatives, usually due to prohibitive rollout costs and logistics – can create disharmony when the employee perceives they are of lower importance to the company because they are not included in programs.
- Determining and influencing poor employee mental health on organisational productivity and performance .
- Limited funding – Australian company budget growth in wellness program funding only grew 0.3% between 2014-2019 .
 The 2013 RAND Corporation Workplace Wellness Programs Study found staff who are offered programs and opt to participate are already health oriented; 46% meaning the main health risk group is unengaged; 54%.
 2017 WHO Study found 1 in 5 American adults experiences a mental health illness in a given year and 1 in 25 adults suffer from a serious mental illness.
 2014-2019 IBISWorld Corporate Wellness Services – Australia Market Research Report October 2018