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How do I start an Employee Wellness Program at work?

Posted by Alden Hui on September 30, 2019
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With employee benefits packages becoming the status quo, an employee wellness program helps employers gain a recruiting advantage. Discover why you need wellness at your workplace and how to successfully implement a wellness program:

NOTE: Olympia Benefits will be launching a Wellness Spending Account soon.  For more information, download our eBook at the bottom of this article. 

What is inside an employee wellness program?

An employee wellness program encourages employees to lead active and healthy lifestyles. 

This can include a variety of products and services such as gym memberships, classes, relationship counselling, or that new pair of running shoes.

The easiest way to create an employee wellness plan is to offer flexible options.  

What can an employee wellness program do for your business?

Traditional forms of employee benefits are no longer seen as competitive, but instead, a requirement. Wellness programs provide a low cost recruiting advantage with high employee value. Furthermore, it creates incentive for employees to join and stay at your company. 

Increase productivity

  • Researchers found that all employees who participated in a wellness program improved productivity on average of one full workday per month!

Reduce absenteeism and health care costs

  • Each dollar spent on wellness programs saves $3.27 in health care costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs.

Empower employees to shape healthy and happy lifestyles

  • 61% of employees agree that they’ve made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness program

The benefits world is moving toward flexible options. The modern day worker performs better with their own preferences. Fortunately,  there are wellness programs which allow workers to choose their wellness spending. 

How do I start an employee wellness program?

There are many wellness-related benefits available in the market. The problem for an employer is uncertainty to what your employees want. Furthermore, implementing several different wellness programs is a hassle and a mess. 

With that in mind, a platform that lets employees choose their wellness and also eliminates administrative work for the employer is ideal. Fortunately, a Wellness Spending Account is an all in one platform which allows the employer to bundle these benefits into one plan for smooth implementation and ease of access.

Employees will be able to get reimbursed for a wide range of wellness items, such as gym memberships, professional development courses, and more. Claims are straightforward, and reimbursements are considered a taxable income (T4).

What is a Wellness Spending Account (WSA)?

A Wellness Spending Account (WSA) is a personalized wellness program which provides employees with a taxable allowance to spend on wellness-related activities and products such as gym memberships, classes, relationship counselling, or that new pair of running shoes. 

The purpose of the plan is to promote employee wellness while limiting expenditures for the employer through a pre-determined allowance. This puts cost control in the hands of employers and flexibility for employee spending. 

What are the features of a Wellness Spending Account (WSA)?

  • Set allowances based on employee classifications
  • Choose from a wide range of eligible wellness expenses
  • Pre-set an automatic funding amount at the start of each month
  • Employers never spend more than your budget allows
  • Employees cannot spend more than their pre-assigned classification limits
  • Simple, fast, and secure online claims through our mobile app
  • Easy implementation and fast reimbursements for existing clients

What can you claim with a Wellness Spending Account (WSA)?

Each plan provider creates their own list of eligible wellness expenses. 

Common Wellness Spending Account eligible expenses include:

  • Nutrition
    • Dietitian
    • Over-the-counter supplements
  • Fitness
    • Golf clubs
    • Trail running shoes
    • Frisbee
    • Bicycle helmet
    • Skis
  • Personal Development
    • Courses and textbooks
  • Mental Health
    • Hiking retreat
    • Hypnosis
    • Art therapy

To see a full list, visit our article on eligible expenses for a Wellness Spending Account

How does a Wellness Spending Account work?

Employers sign up for the plan online. The Olympia Benefits plan will only be available to existing Group clients. They can sign up through My Olympia platform.  

NOTE: Olympia Benefits will be launching a Wellness Spending Account soon.  For more information, download our eBook at the bottom of this article. 

Employers set allowances for employees based on a factor of their choice such as job title, years of experience, etc. Employers also determine a monthly amount to contribute to the funding account within the plan. This ensures employees are reimbursed in a timely manner if they do claim. 

Employees pay for their wellness related expenses personally and then make a claim on our mobile app. Employees save the receipt in case of an audit. Once the claim is approved, employees will be reimbursed in their personal bank account within 2-3 business days. The reimbursement is taken from the employer WSA funding account. Pre-set monthly payments are established by the employer. 

Olympia's WSA is a fully digital plan with claims and reimbursement done through a fast and simple digital process. Employees can log into their personal account through the Olympia Benefits app and make claims, while seeing reimbursement or audit status.

Who can sign up for a Wellness Spending Account?  

A Wellness Spending Account is a viable option for a business of any size (1 to 100+ arm's length employees). 

The Olympia WSA will be available to existing Olympia HSA Group clients.

HSA Group is Olympia's Health Spending Account plan for a small business with arm's length employees. Health Spending Accounts are a tax-free benefit for employees to spend on medical expenses. They are great small business health and dental plans. 

Who chooses the eligible expenses in a Wellness Spending Account?

Since a Wellness Spending Account is a taxable benefit, eligible expenses are determined by Olympia Benefits. 

Within our plan, employers can select the categories of eligible expenses that meet their specific needs


For more details, download our FREE Beginner's Guide below:

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Topics: employee wellness, wellness spending account, wellness program