Canadian Employees Place High Value on Wellness Programs

May 14, 2008 ( - A recent survey shows Canadian employees recognize the importance of workplace wellness programs and education as a means to assist them in coping with increasing health risks.

According to a press release on the sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey, prevention and workplace wellness practices such as coverage for vaccines (75%), exercise programs (72%), and “cutting- edge” drugs (69%) were the highest ranked health priorities. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents without access to workplace wellness programs said they would be interested in participating in such programs if they were available.

A vast majority of respondents (83%) indicated they would be more likely to stay in their job if they really believed their employer was interested in maintaining their good health, and three-quarters (75%) said they think more highly of their employer because of the health benefit plan provided, the release said. Fewer respondents (35%) whose employer provides health education at work are likely to report having high and prolonged workplace stress compared to those without such programs (44%).

Seventy-six percent of plan members said they believe they have an obligation to help their employer control the cost of their health benefit plans and almost all (96%) indicated that preventing disease, illness, or injury would help employers control costs.

Sixty-one percent of employees reported it would be appropriate for their employer to encourage disease, illness, and injury prevention as long as their employer does not have access to their personal health records. Additionally, about one-third (35%) indicated it would be appropriate for their employer to help them manage their health.

Two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported their health was excellent or very good over the past year. However, almost four in 10 (39%) respondents acknowledged that workplace stress has made them physically ill at times, and 18% said stress, both at home and work, has made them physically ill. Respondents also expressed growing concerns about being at risk for developing chronic diseases such as cancer (78%), heart disease (70%), and diabetes (54%).

While plan members said they are concerned about obesity and mental illness (36% and 34% respectively), 40% did not name diet, and 43% did not name exercise as means to prevent obesity. Over a quarter (28%) of respondents did not know how to prevent mental illness and only 23% identified stress reduction as a way to avert mental illness.

Other key survey findings, according to the press release included:

  • Nine in 10 respondents (90%) said they think governments should take more responsibility for prevention of illness, injury, or disease rather than just treatment, with a similar percentage (89%) of plan members agreeing governments should spend more on prevention.
  • A majority of employees (57%) reported that their employer provides health education, but less than a third (30%) strongly agreed their employer is doing enough to promote disease, illness, and injury prevention.
  • 53% of respondents have traditional plans with no choice of coverage, and 15% said this is the type they most prefer, while almost 65% indicated they prefer a flexible plan.

Ipsos-Reid conducted the sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey December 4 - 13, 2007, with a random national sample of 1,500 primary health benefit plan members.