Posted: 29 Aug. 2023 5 min. read

Investment in well-being could pay dividends to employers

By Neal Batra, principal, and Andy Davis, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

There is a belief among some employers that an investment in the health and well-being of an employee is wasted once that person takes another job. Investments in employees (stock) often focus on the immediate return on investment, rather than on long-term benefits such as increased productivity and lower turnover (flow). We see this perspective as both short-sighted and illogical. Initiatives that help improve the health and well-being of employees can help boost productivity and improve retention while also helping to ensure the overall success of a business. It could also have a positive impact on society as a whole by helping people live healthier and longer lives, according to our latest research (see Employers can spark healthy aging).

Employers are generally well positioned to have a positive impact on the physical, mental, social, emotional, and financial health of their employees—inside and outside of work. People who feel valued by their employer are less likely to switch jobs, according to our research. Moreover, employers that prioritize health could have an advantage over competitors. Such employers tend to have more productive workers and might wind up spending less on recruitment and training as a result. But what about industries that have historically high turnover? Even sectors that rely on a highly transient workforce could benefit from an investment in employee health if it helps to reduce turnover. Every resignation can cost an organization up to one-third of the employee’s annual salary.1

People have different health needs

People have different health needs, and employers should look for ways to meet the unique health conditions of all employees. Black adults, for example, have higher rates of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than white adults.2 About 30% of Latinx Americans has high blood pressure, which can be a precursor to a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.3 Targeted or personalized programs—that support the social, economic, and environmental factors that impact health—could help identify and address individual health needs. Multidisciplinary employee health teams could include clinicians, nutritionists, health coaches, fitness trainers, or mental health experts.

Andy’s personalized health perspective: Through a series of conversations with my health coach, we determined why I don’t feel 100% some days. It turns out, my body does not digest pork as well as it digests other types of meat. I can eat a steak or cheeseburger and feel fine, but I typically don’t sleep well if I have pork for dinner. Unique proteins in pork trigger IgG sensitivities in my body. My health coach told me that I need to eat a variety of animal protein, such as chicken, fish, beef, and venison (which I have access to during bow-hunting season in Minnesota). This is an illustration of why employers should consider investments in personalized health care, versus more generalized health benefits.

Neal’s personalized health perspective: I spend a lot of my time on the road, which can make it difficult to maintain a fitness regimen. In the past, I would only visit the gym on the weekends…and only if I had both the time and the energy. Deloitte offers all employees $1,000 a year to spend on well-being-related services and items (e.g., gym memberships, equipment, skiing lift tickets, entrance fees for races and walks). I now use my wellness benefit to offset the cost of a multi-city membership to an upscale fitness club. This benefit has made it possible to work out whenever I have downtime between meetings. This strategy might not work for everyone, but it works well for me. I feel energized rather than drained by travel. The flexibility of this benefit can encourage employees to make personalized decisions about their health.

Employer impact could stretch beyond retirement

Investment in the health and well-being of employees could have a profound impact on the health and longevity of employees after retirement. Although the average life span in the US is 77.9 years, Deloitte calculated that Americans are living just 65.9 years (or 85% of their life) in good health. According to an analysis conducted by Deloitte’s Health and Life Actuarial teams, all Americans could potentially spend up to 95% of their years in good health and live to be nearly 90 years old. Not only can people of all ages potentially gain more years and more healthy years, but they would also likely spend less on health care (see Employers can spark healthy aging).

Here are a few things employers could offer to employees to help improve their health:

  • Health screenings: Employers could encourage employees to participate in annual physicals and preventive health screenings (e.g., Pap smears, breast exams, colonoscopies). Improving access to health screenings—and services that address mental health and social isolation—can contribute to healthier aging.
  • Wearable devices: Wearables and digital tools can help encourage healthy behaviors, especially when they’re paired with coaching and nudging.
  • Health literacy tools: Providing employees with health-literacy tools and educational materials can encourage them to take a more active role in their well-being.
  • A focus on the drivers of health: Employers could try to identify and address the drivers of health that might be negatively impacting their employees. These are non-medical economic, environmental, and social factors that influence health (e.g., access to affordable housing, financial literacy, clean air and water, and healthy food).


Employers can be a catalyst for helping people enjoy longer and healthier lives, but they can’t do it alone. All ecosystem stakeholders—including employers, the life sciences and health care industries, public health organizations, community organizations, and individuals—should work collectively toward the common goal of a healthier society. By emphasizing wellness, prevention, and early detection, we can move away from a treatment-focused health care model to one centered on health (see The Future of Health).

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1Work Institute 2020 Retention Report, Work Institute

2High blood pressure among Black people, American Heart Association

3Cardiovascular disease in Hispanics/Latinos, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, February 18, 2019

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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