Stress Top Driver of Wellness Programs across the Globe

October 4, 2010 ( - Stress is the top health issue driving wellness strategies for employers in Africa/the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Canada, and Europe, according to preliminary results from the National Business Group on Health’s (NBGH) fourth annual global wellness survey.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that employers in Latin America and the United States identified physical activity as the top health issue driving their wellness initiatives. In the U.S., addressing employee stress ranked sixth as a wellness driver, behind nutrition, chronic disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.  

According to the SHRM report, offering an employee assistance program is the main strategy that 73% of employers around the globe are using to address employee stress.  Leadership training (53%) and physical activity programs (50%) are the other top strategies.  

A slight majority (54%) of employers surveyed have a global wellness strategy. Among those without a global strategy, 60% cited differing cultures, laws, and practices across regions as the reason.   

Employers that have a global wellness strategy said it is part of their global branding and benefits strategy; they like the standardization and the quality control a global strategy offers; they can leverage best practices, there is an economy of scale as they deal with fewer vendors; and they desire to be a global employer of choice.  

The top employer incentive for offering wellness initiatives are: 

  • Africa/Middle East: morale and engagement. 
  • Asia: work ability—the ability to retain employees, including older workers. 
  • Australia: workplace safety. 
  • Canada, Europe, and Latin America: productivity/presenteeism. 
  • United States: health care costs. 


SHRM said the findings were released September 15, 2010.  Buck Consultants conducted the survey of 1,245 employers in 47 countries during May, June, and July 2010.