Employers around the Globe Climb on Wellness Program Bandwagon

October 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The number of employers outside of North America turning to workplace wellness strategies has nearly doubled in the past 12 months to 40% of those in Europe, Asia and Africa.

A Buck Consultants news release about its study reported that the wellness programs are still most prevalent in North America where 82% of responding employers have them in their benefits packages.

The news announcement said the fastest-growing components of the wellness initiatives include Web portals, online programs, and personal health records.

Other rapidly growing program elements are:

  • health fairs,
  • healthy vending machine food choices, and
  • workplace health competitions.

The Buck survey found that business objectives for wellness programs also vary by international location.

For example, U.S. employers look for health care cost reduction as their top goal, while Canadian employers cite improving productivity. In Europe, the top goal is improving workforce morale, and employers in both Asia and Africa cite reducing employee absence as their main objective for wellness programs.

While measuring success, the survey found 16% of American respondents reported a reduction in health care costs attributable to their wellness initiatives, with an average annual reduction of 2% to 5%.

The survey also found that Incentive rewards are up 45% since Buck's prior survey in 2007. U.S. respondents spend an average of $145 per employee per year on wellness incentive rewards, up from an average of $100 last year. Twelve percent of U.S. respondents spent more than $500 per employee per year.

The latest poll analyzed responses from more than 600 organizations in 25 countries representing more than 10 million employees. The research was conducted with vielife, a CIGNA company, as well as Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting, and WorldatWork.

The survey report is available for $150 from Buck's Global Survey Resources, 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ, 07096-1533, at 1-800-887-0509, or at www.bucksurveys.com .