Workplace Wellness Programs Enjoying Broad Worker Support

January 26, 2009 ( - American workers with access to employer-based wellness programs are taking advantage of them in large numbers, according to a new Principal Financial Group report.

class=”listparagraph”> A Principal news release said 79% of workers (up from 74% a year ago) take advantage of educational tools and resources offered by their employer, while 77% (up from 59%) participate in both blood sugar and cholesterol screenings.

class=”listparagraph”> Some 51% of respondents believe wellness benefits offered by their employer are successful at lowering health care costs, according to the latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index

“Americans face strong financial head winds as we enter the new year against the backdrop of a slowing economy,” said Jerry Ripperger, national practice leader of consumer health for the Principal Financial Group, in the news release. “Rising health care costs are fueling the fire at a time when many Americans are strapped for cash. Fortunately, it appears the majority of workers understand that adopting preventive health care measures not only improves overall health but can drive down costs in the long term.”


class=”listparagraph”> Workers, including both those who did and did not have access to onsite activities, cited several factors that would encourage them to participate in a wellness program if offered by their employer. Better overall physical health and lower personal health care costs (53% and 38%, respectively) would most encourage them to participate. More than one-third of workers (38%) said that receiving an incentive or reward would encourage them.

According to the Principal, despite worker interest, many employers have been slow to make wellness benefits available. For example, only 16% of workers indicated they have access to educational tools or resources at the work site, and just 13% receive fitness center discounts. Even fewer workers (11%) have access to onsite health screenings, educational wellness seminars, and onsite fitness facilities.

Other findings of the Principal Financial Well-Being Index, according to a news release, include:

  • Nearly half of workers (42%) have more than one health plan option available through their employer. For the third straight year, monthly paycheck deduction ranked No. 1 in importance as 31% of workers (compared to 25% a year ago) said it motivates their decision on which plan they choose.
  • Two-thirds of workers (up from 60% a year ago) expect increased premiums this year, and more than four in 10 workers (43%, up from 38%) expect to pay higher deductibles.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from October 22 to October 29, 2008, among 1,179 employees and 625 retirees.