Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Workplace Wellness Isn't Just for Big Corporations. Here's How Small Businesses Can Build a Culture of Health.

Naps, salads, open dialogue and leading by example are great places to start, says a leading workplace wellness researcher


Over the past decade, wellness has ballooned into a $4.2 trillion . In the crowded marketplace of self-improvement, hardcore innovations jostle with softcore supplements in the jade egg domain. Meanwhile, "hustle" culture has spawned a kind of work worship that has many people burning out and questioning how much they should really expect to get from (or give to) their jobs. In the midst of all this, is on the rise; more than 80 percent of and 50 percent of small companies have implemented such programs. Despite their pervasiveness, big questions linger over what, exactly, works.

andresr | Getty Images

That's something that Dr. Ron Goetzel has devoted his career to studying. Goetzel is a senior scientist and director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at Johns Hopkins, as well as VP of applied research for IBM Watson Health. He says the first idea worth considering is how we think about what "works." Traditionally, the measurement for success has been (ROI), or what a company saves on lowered healthcare costs and reduced absenteeism given how much they've invested in wellness initiatives. Goetzel does plenty of these analyses. Since 1994, he's run The Health Project, which gives a yearly award to companies with demonstrably effective wellness initiatives. He led a recent study showing that over a 14-year period, a portfolio of 26 of these companies significantly outperformed the S&P 500. The 26 companies that truly invested in wellness delivered a stock return of 325 percent, versus the S&P 500's 105 percent. Data suggests that wellness programs done right do, in fact, pay dividends.

Continue reading this article - and everything on Entrepreneur!

Become a member to get unlimited access and support the voices you want to hear more from. Get full access to Entrepreneur for just $5.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks