Canadian companies lag on wellness

While some Canadian employers are leading the pack in the wellness movement (see page 20), the majority is still trailing, according to a recent survey.

Only 17.5 per cent of Canadian corporations offer comprehensive wellness programs, according to a national wellness survey report issued by conulting firm Buffet Taylor and Associates. Almost two-thirds of the 414 private and public sector companies across Canada surveyed reported offering “some” kind of wellness activity, like smoking cessation, stress management or ergonomics clinics for example.

The numbers are even starker compared to our American counterparts, with 67 per cent of Fortune magazine’s top 100 companies offering some form of a comprehensive wellness program.

“Very few companies in Canada are taking the issue of employee wellness serious enough to really make a difference,” says Ed Buffet, founder and chair of the Wellness Council of Canada and president and CEO of Buffet Taylor.

Perceptions about the tangible returns on health promotion spending and the costs and resources associated with wellness initiatives continue to be the main deterrents for employers, according to the survey.

Of those companies without a comprehensive wellness program, the reasons cited were lack of budget (41 per cent), lack of staff resources (39 per cent) and concern over the cost of the program (31 per cent).

The survey results also show that employers aren’t tracking the tangible success of their programs, with 76 per cent of those who offer wellness programs not evaluating their programs and 39 per cent reporting they don’t know if they monitor the success of the programs.

The “good news” is that Canadian employers are slowly but surely beginning to realize the benefits of health promotion programs in the workplace.

The majority of employers who offer some form of wellness programs reported that the number one reason for such programs is they consider healthy employees a valuable asset.

“The good news is a growing number of Canadian employers are beginning to recognize the value of healthy employees. The bad news is they lag in execution,” says Buffet.

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