Employers Find Physical Wellness Programs Successful

However, common barriers still exist with implementing these programs, a survey finds.

Continued increases in productivity and decreases in absenteeism strengthen the case for workplace physical wellness programs, according to findings from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Workplace Wellness 2017 Survey Report.

The survey found 75% of employers offer wellness initiatives primarily to improve overall worker health and well-being. Only one in four employers said the main reason for offering wellness initiatives is to control/reduce health-related costs.

Among employers offering and measuring their wellness efforts, more than half have found a decrease in absenteeism, 63% are experiencing financial sustainability and growth in the organization, 66% reported increased productivity and 67% said employees are more satisfied.

According to the survey, 77% of employers offer free or discounted flu shots, so traditional wellness offerings continue to gain steam. Popular emerging wellness benefits include:

  • Chiropractic services coverage – 62%;
  • Community charity drives/events – 59%;
  • On-site events/celebrations – 58%;
  • Wellness competitions like walking/fitness challenges – 51%;
  • Healthy food choices in cafeteria or vending machines – 44%;
  • Standing/walking work stations – 42%; and
  • Wearable fitness trackers – 23%.

Even though 92% of workplaces offering wellness programs and tracking wellness return on investments (ROI) report their initiatives as very or somewhat successful, barriers still exist in implementing wellness initiatives. Common barriers include:

  • Difficulty for workers to find enough time to participate – 39%;
  • Dispersed population – 27%;
  • Difficulty maintaining momentum – 26%;
  • Prohibitive costs – 25%; and
  • Lack of interest by workers – 24%.

Employers are using wellness incentives like gift cards, gym reimbursements and contributions to health accounts (HSAs, HRAs or FSAs) to help build interest among workers, and most are considering the incentives to be successful. Employers are also implementing targeted wellness communication campaigns to overcome common barriers, reaching out to different generations/age groups, those with health risks and those managing various life events (parenting, retirement, aging parents, etc.).

For more information, and to read the full survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/workplacewellness.