Employers not Offering Wellness Benefits Desired

January 20, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Fitness center discounts is the top wellness benefit employees say their employers can offer. 

According to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index, the top four wellness benefits offered are online wellness information (19%), educational tools or resources (18%), fitness center discounts (17%) and printed wellness information (17%).

The top four benefits employees would most like to see their employer offer are fitness center discounts (25%), on-site preventive screenings (22%) and access to wellness experts such as nutritionists (21%) and onsite fitness facilities (19%).

Employers encourage their employees to participate in wellness programs offered at the workplace in a number of ways. Nearly two in 10 employees (18%) indicated their management encourages them to participate in wellness benefits. Sixteen percent of employees are offered lower health insurance costs for participating in wellness benefits at their workplace. Another 12% of employees are offered other financial incentives (such as gift certificates or discounts) or offered cash incentives for participating.

According to the survey, employees (including those not offered wellness benefits in their workplace) were asked to identify three benefits that would encourage them to participate in a wellness program.

•  Nearly one in two employees (45%) chose better overall physical health as a benefit of participating in a wellness program.

•  Other top mentions included receiving a meaningful incentive from their employer for participation (30%) reduced personal healthcare costs, greater chance of living a longer, healthier life and reduced stress (29% each). The employer making it convenient for them to participate was mentioned by 23% of employees, down significantly from 28% in 2010.

Other findings from the survey show:

•  About two out of five employees (41%) strongly agree or somewhat agree that wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better.

•  Four in 10 employees (40%) strongly agree or somewhat agree that having an employer sponsored wellness program would encourage them to stay in their current employment situation. Compared to 2010, these results are down from 48%.

•  Just over a third of employees who use at least one wellness program once a year (35%) agree strongly or somewhat that they have missed fewer days of work by participating in a wellness program. (This is up from 28% in 2010.)

•  Slightly more than half who use at least one wellness program once a year (52%) agree to some extent that they have more energy to be more productive at work by participating in a wellness program. Compared to last year, these results are up from 37%.

•  Over half of employees (55%) rated wellness activities offered by an employer very successful or somewhat successful in improving health and reducing health risks, while about a quarter (24%) were neutral in their rating (neither successful nor unsuccessful). Two in 10 employees (20%) were more skeptical about the success of wellness activities (somewhat unsuccessful or very unsuccessful rating).

•  Employees who are offered health insurance through their employer were asked what they anticipate will happen with their insurance in 2012. Nearly two thirds (62%) expect their premiums will increase, 43% of employees expect their deductibles will increase, 28% expect a change in medical plan options, and about a quarter of employees (24%) expect a reduction in coverage.


This Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group between October 20 and October 31, 2011, among 1,121 employees and 533 retirees.