Corporate Wellness Programs in America
In its extensive infographic, the employee wellness company, ShapeUp lays out all of the information from a survey on wellness in the workforce.
Costs to employers for employee healthcare are going up, primarily as an outcome of rising obesity in America. In fact, the average annual cost to the employer for covering an employee and their family doubled from 2001 to 2011, with 2011 costs of more than $15,000. Treating obesity and the resulting illnesses accounted for 10% of company health care expenses. In order to mitigate these costs, some companies have found success in offering the benefit of wellness programs to their employees.
In fact, the majority of companies with over 5,000 employees have begun to offer this kind of program of some kind. Some of the types of benefits offered include: web based healthy living benefits (offered by 91% of 5,000+ companies), quit-smoking help (offered by 81%), On-site gym or gym memberships (71% offer this benefit), weight loss programs (offered by 70%), personal health coach (offered by 64%), nutrition and health classes (63% offer this benefit) and a wellness newsletter (53% of 5,000+ companies have one).
Why You Should Get Started
The goals and benefits of these programs can vary from employer to employer, with the most commonly cited goal being improved health and wellness of employees. Other reasons would be improved engagement of the workforce, reduction in diagnosis of preventable diseases, cost reduction, promoting education and awareness of health issues, minimizing obesity in the workforce, helping employees to quit smoking, improving behaviors, offering stress reduction and nutritional improvements. Cash and other incentives are often offered to employees to spur participation, with the average incentive being more than $300.
Health Risk Assessments
Offering Health Risk Assessments, or HRA, is often a first step in offering a complete wellness program. When asked if they had only half their current wellness budget, nearly 30% said they would want to keep the HRA programs in place. Around 18% said they would keep both fitness activities and biometrics and 9.1% said the same for EAP, Portal, Coaching and Health Facilities. A survey showed that half of employers believed in the importance of HRA, while the other half did not. Many of the employers surveyed said that telephone coaching is not effective enough to offset the cost.
Challenges and Success
One of the major challenges faced by U.S. employers is engaging the male workforce in the wellness program, while globally the biggest challenges are language, cultural and geographic obstacles. Additionally, while many workers have access to the internet and computers, many do not, and those employees can be especially difficult to reach.
The three success factors most commonly cited by employers is high employee involvement, an increase of exercise and weight loss in the workforce, and reduction of health care costs as a result.