Workplace Wellness For All: Employer Survey Results Part 3
Having spent the past six years in the health promotion arena, championing wellness programs both at the community and the corporate levels, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the rapid rise in the adoption of workplace wellness programs (with trade organizations like WELCOA and NBGH leading the charge) and the slower but still significant nationwide cultural shift toward a focus on prevention instead of disease treatment (First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move wellness initiative being one great example). Almost 300 years ago, Benjamin Franklin said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Of course he was talking about home fire prevention in Philadelphia, but his advice is universally applicable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until health care costs went wild and we felt collective pain that America began to adopt this mantra. As is often the case, corporations with a profit motive are leading the innovation, with employers across America pioneering preventive approaches to employee health. Take, for example, the fact that over the past five years, the number of all U.S. employers offering workplace-based wellness programs has almost doubled to 45%.
Source: Metlife, 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends. Survey of 1508 benefits decision-makers at companies with 2+ employees. 7th Annual Survey for 2005-2007 data
As I described in Part 2 of this blog post series, large employers have a particularly strong incentive to adopt wellness programming given that they are self-insured and can directly reduce their company’s health care costs through health promotion. Our research confirms this, showing that almost all employers with over 5,000 employees now have wellness programs in place. Of three common program types that are frequently offered, web-based programs are the most popular, with 91% of large employers offering them to employees, likely due to their relatively low cost, scalability, and ease of administration. Health coaching was less popular, with only 64% of large employers offering it, likely due to its higher cost and lower scalability. Across the board, larger companies are more likely than smaller ones to make a particular program type available to their employees. Later in this blog post series we’ll explore how large employers rate the performance of their wellness programs and what they’re planning for the future.
Source: KFF/HRET Health Employer Health Benefits Survey, 2011
workplace wellness, wellness survey results, employee wellness survey