In order to drive profitability and performance, 87% of employers relied on wellness programs in 2012, up from 75% in 2010, according to the latest report from Buck Consultants.
The report, titled “Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” finds employers from all locations say improving worker productivity and reducing presenteeism (at work while sick) are their top wellness program objectives.
“With productivity having a direct tie to bottom-line revenue, organizations now consider health promotion as a core business value that positively impacts their ability to compete,” said Dave Ratcliffe, principal of Cincinnati-based Buck Consultants. “With signs of job market improvement emerging in the U.S., employers will be challenged to maintain productivity gains earned during the recession as employees have increased job mobility.”
Only 36% of respondents report measuring specific outcomes of their wellness programs. Reasons respondents fail to do so are lack of resources at 68% and not knowing how to measure at 34%. Respondents from larger organizations are more likely to measure outcomes.
Still, only 47% of respondents from organizations with at least 20,000 employees measure specific outcomes, Buck Consultants said. Among respondents who measure wellness program outcomes, 30% say they placed greater emphasis on wellness programs during the tough economy.
“Employers who measure program outcomes do so with a greater focus on driving business results,” Ratcliffe said. “A healthier work force is a more productive work force, which produces greater revenue that is sustainable over the long term. So these employers understand the value of continuing their wellness initiatives even during hard economic times.”
Another 23% of respondents say wellness programs have helped cut costs of offering health care coverage. Within that sector of respondents, 62% say their health care cost trend rate reductions were two percentage points or more while 13% say they were six percentage points or more.
When it comes to globalization, 49% of respondents promote worldwide health promotion strategies, an increase from 34% in 2008. Program focus can vary by geographic region, but most respondents say physical activity, stress and workplace safety are the three primary issues influencing wellness program design.
The survey also reveals that incentives have a direct correlation to program participation; however, initiatives that require lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet changes, are less impacted by incentives than more immediate programs, such as health assessments and biometric screenings.
This article was originall posted at BenefitsPro.com, a sister site of Credit Union Times.