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October 27, 2017 Amelia Wilcox

Office Massage Program Cost: How to Set up Subsidized Payments

Workplace massage programs are a great way to show employees you care about them. They deliver effective stress relief and can give a nice boost in employee morale.

But one key part of that morale boost is how you determine how the bill will be paid.

Choosing to share the cost of the program with your employees is a great way to stretch your budget. But as you’ll see below, there are ways to set up a cost-sharing program that are simple and secure. And there are ways to pay for it that can make the program more stressful than it’s worth.

In this article, you’ll learn a few ways companies can make a subsidized payments in your massage program work.

Subsidized Payment Options for Office Massage



What is a subsidized employee massage program?

A subsidized massage program is a great option for companies that want a way to stretch their budget. When you subsidize your program, your company is able to share the cost with your employees.

While we don’t recommend having employees pay for the whole thing (see more below), a cost-sharing option can make a massage program accessible for companies with very tight budgets.

Related: How to Start a Wellness Program With No Budget

How do subsidized payments for a massage program work?

Setting up a cost-sharing option for your massage program is a cinch. All you have to do is let your massage company know how much of each massage the company will pay for, and how much the employees will pay for.

For example, if a chair massage costs $10, the company could pay $5 or $6 of that cost, and the employee receiving the massage, would pay the remaining $4 or $5. Massage pricing and quotes will include both paid and unpaid breaks, depending on the duration of an event.

At Nivati, we’ve seen the most success with subsidized programs when the company covers 50% of the cost, at minimum. Click here to read more about that decision.


employee payments for office massage


Can employees pay for the whole massage program?

Some massage companies will work with companies that make employees pay for the whole massage program.

But Nivati won’t.

We made that decision long ago and it’s one we’re sticklers about.

Here’s why: When employees are 100% financially responsible for a workplace massage program, it doesn’t really feel like a benefit for them. You don’t see the boost in employee morale that you do when a company pays for all or part of the program.

It’s the difference between a vending machine or coffee that you have to pay for and a work kitchen stocked full of free food. The impact on the employees is completely different.

That’s why we recommend that companies should plan on paying at least half the total cost of their workplace massage program.


cost sharing massage program

3 Options for Subsidized Massage Programs

Now that you understand the basics of how a cost-sharing massage program works, let’s get more specific.

When it comes time to pay the bill, how do subsidized programs work?

There are a few ways we’ve seen it done. Here are two great options (and one terrible option),


OPTION 1: Work with a massage company that will process employee payments for you.

The easiest option on your end is to set up your massage program with a company that will handle all the employee payments.

That way, when you get your bill, you won’t have to worry about collecting subsidized payments from employees for their portion of the massage sessions — it will be taken care of ahead of time.

When a massage company handles the employee-paid portion of your massage program, you know that the bill you get is only what you’re prepared to pay for, and your employees have already paid their share.

Ideally, your massage company will be able to collect employee payment information once, and will then simply charge your employees at the time of each of their massage sessions.


OPTION 2: Set up an employee payroll deduction.

A payroll deduction process is another option for cost-sharing, but it will take more hands-on work on your part. Each pay period, you’ll need to determine how many massages each employee had before you can figure out how much you’re going to deduct from their paycheck.

If there is a set number of massages your employees are allowed per month, you’ll just need to make sure no one has gone above or below that number, to ensure you’re deducting correctly.

In a payroll deduction payment program, your company will be responsible for paying the entire massage program bill, and then it will be up to you to recoup the employee-paid portions yourself.


There is a final option that I do not recommend, but will mention here anyway, just so you have all the information in front of you:

(not really an option) OPTION 3: Collect cash from your employees.

We’ve seen companies try to use this system, and it’s very time-consuming (and risky) for them to keep track of.

And it’s far too easy for an employee to over- or underpay without a solid tracking system in place. Not to mention, a cash-collecting system means someone at your place of business needs to be in charge of that process. They have to keep track of an envelope or drawer full of cash, document everything, and take regular trips to the bank.

At that point, your massage program will have created more work for your company, which is the opposite of what anyone wants.

And that’s why we do not recommend this as a viable cost-sharing option.


subsidized payments for employee massage programs


Subsidized Payments for Employee Massage Programs

The reason we’re a fan of subsidized payment programs is that it gives companies with smaller budgets the ability to provide a great wellness benefit such as on site massage.

Employees love massages at work. And because of that, our clients have found that they often don’t mind paying $3 to $5 for a regular massage during their workday.

The key to making it work is to have a streamlined system in place to securely take care of employee payments.


Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)