U.S. employers should promote healthy lifestyles: Survey

Wellness programs boost employee engagement and loyalty

The majority of American workers believe employers should be responsible for promoting healthy lifestyles to workers, according to a new survey.

The survey of 1,006 workers, conducted by employee assistance program provider Workplace Options, found three out of four respondents agree employers should offer workplace wellness programs in an effort to improve their employee's health, a

And 59 per cent agree employer incentives for health and wellness were a reward for being fit. Only one in five workers felt that these benefits were a penalty for being unfit.

The overwhelming majority, 85 per cent, say participation in wellness programs would help them stay fit and 69 per cen, say they would be more likely to use an employer-sponsored wellness program if doing so would reduce their share of the health-insurance premium.

"Employer-sponsored wellness programs are a great way for companies to not only encourage healthy activities for employees, but substantially offset the high cost of health insurance for both the company and its workers," said Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options.

Although establishing employee wellness programs would in many cases involve an additional cost to the company, the desired end result would be healthier employees and lower group health insurance premiums, according to Workplace Options.

"Healthy employees are less likely to miss work due to illness, and increasing morale can lead to increased productivity — a win-win for employees and the company," said Alan King, president and COO of Workplace Options.

Wellness programs also boost employee engagement and commitment, with 61 per cent of respondents saying they would feel more appreciated by an employer who offered wellness programs and would be more loyal to that company.

While 51 per cent of respondents indicated no monetary incentive would be necessary to encourage their participation, 17 per cent reported that $10 would encourage their participation and 18 per cent would like to see at least a $100 payout to make it appealing.

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