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Learn about the science behind mindfulness and wellness at the workplace. 

Employee wellness programs have often been viewed as a nice extra, not a strategic imperative. But the data demonstrate otherwise, according to Berry, of Texas A&M University; Mirabito, of Baylor University; and Baun, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Their research shows that the ROI on comprehensive, well-run employee wellness programs is impressive, sometimes as high as six to one.

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To achieve those kinds of results, employers cannot merely offer workers a few passes to a fitness center and nutrition information in the cafeteria. The most successful wellness programs are supported by six essential pillars: engaged leadership at multiple levels; strategic alignment with the company’s identity and aspirations; a design that is broad in scope and high in relevance and quality; broad accessibility; internal and external partnerships; and effective communications.

Companies in a variety of industries—including Johnson & Johnson, Lowe’s, H-E-B, and Healthwise—have built their employee wellness programs on all six pillars and have reaped big rewards in the form of lower costs, greater productivity, and higher morale. Those benefits are not easy to achieve, and verifiable paybacks are never a certainty. But the track record inspires emulation, especially when you see the numbers.

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