How do I start an Employee Wellness Program at work?

By: Updated: February 14, 2020

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:

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 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 (For the Olympia plan, claims are made 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 for the employee is taken from the employer funding account. 

Olympia's Wellness Spending Account (WSA) is a fully digital plan with claims and reimbursement done through our app. Employees can log into their personal account through the Olympia Benefits app to make claims and check other claims in progress.

Who can sign up for a Wellness Spending Account?  

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

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. 

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

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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Listen to our Podcast Episode about Employee Wellness Programs:

banner advertising podcast episode about employee wellness programs

To continue your research on a Health Spending Account, check out these articles:

How to start a Workplace Wellness Program

Top 24 FAQ for employee benefits packages for a small business

What employee benefits do millennials want?

What's inside an Employee Benefits Package for Small Business?


More about Employee Wellness Programs:

Do Employee Wellness Programs Actually Work?




Write off 100% of your medical expenses

Are you an incorporated business owner with no employees? Learn how to use a Health Spending Account to pay for your medical expenses through your corporation: 

Download the HSA Guide for Incorporated Individuals

Do you own a corporation with employees? Discover a tax deductible health and dental plan that has no premiums:

Download the HSA Guide for a Business with Staff

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