Wellness programs on the rise: Survey

But measuring success remains a challenge
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/12/2012

More employers are continuing to implement wellness programs, and many organizations with programs currently in place are looking to invest and expand, according to a recent survey.

Sixty per cent of the 1,600 employers surveyed in the United States said they have some type of wellness program, an increase of 13 per cent from 2010. And 58 per cent of employers said they plan to expand their wellness initiatives with added programs or resources, found the 2011 Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis North America's Human Capital Practice.

“Wellness programs continue to evolve and it is encouraging to see more organizations initiate programs despite economic pressures and continuing challenges in accurately measuring outcomes and results,” said Jennifer Price, senior health outcomes consultant at Willis Human Capital Practice.

The most common types of wellness programs being offered by respondents include: physical activity programs (53 per cent); tobacco cessation programs (49 per cent); and weight management programs (45 per cent).

Although 29 per cent of survey respondents consider themselves to be a global organization, only 15 per cent said they have implemented a wellness program for their global employees.

And 43 per cent of employers said the leading barrier to measuring success was difficulty in determining the influence of wellness compared with other factors impacting health-care costs. Insufficient data and not enough staff or time remain common barriers to measuring success.

One-half (51 per cent) of respondents offer work-life balance programs within their wellness program. After employee assistance programs (EAPs), flexible start or end times are the most common offering of work-life balance program options, reported by 81 per cent of respondents.

Helping employees achieve work-life balance is reported to be a significant concern by 18 per cent of respondents, and somewhat of a concern by 54 per cent.

“It is exciting to see more employers offering work-life balance programs as a part of their broader wellness efforts," said Price. "Employers seem to realize that employees need resources to find the proper balance between the demands of work and personal life.”

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