Wellness Programs Prompt Employees to Work Harder, Longer

February 5, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than half of employees say employer-sponsored wellness programs encourage them to work harder and 55% say the programs persuade them to stay with their current employer, according to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.

The survey by Principal Financial Group, which offers wellness program services, also found that in addition to acting as an extra incentive to work harder and longer, 58% of employees reported that both they and their family benefit from reduced costs linked to the wellness programs. Thirty-eight percent said lower personal health care costs would be one of the reasons they would sign up for a wellness program and 61% said they think wellness programs can actually lower that cost.

“Although reducing costs is often the first reason employers consider implementing a wellness program, the results go far beyond costs,” said Jerry Ripperger, director for the consumer health for the Principal Financial Group, in a press release on the survey. “Employers who encourage a healthy workplace and provide employee health programs find those employees are absent less often and show greater job satisfaction.”

The survey also showed that employees are taking greater strides to better their health by increasing their participation in certain aspects of employer-sponsored wellness programs, with participation in on-site health screenings increasing from 68% in 2005 to 79% in 2006.

Other results of the survey include:

  • 65% of employees have implemented a personalized action plan for high-risk conditions, up from 45% in the previous year.
  • 60% of employees take advantage of fitness facility benefits when offered, compared 38% in 2005.

The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group and included responses from 1,197 employees and 630 retirees of small and mid-sized U.S. businesses.