Is wellness part of your employee value proposition?

August 6, 2014 Steven Laird

Employers’ views of wellness have evolved over the last seven years since we began our survey, Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies.

“When we began this survey in 2007, employers were focused on health promotion activities,” said Dave Ratcliffe, principal. “Today, our sixth survey shows an evolution in employer thinking to a much more holistic and measurable approach. Workers’ wellness is now viewed as a state of well-being across the spectrum of health, wealth, and career. Wellness is part of the employee value proposition. Social media, gamification, mobile technology, automated coaching, and personalized communication are all part of the mix.”

According to the survey, 78% of the world’s employers are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture of health, to boost individual engagement and organizational performance. The commitment to workers’ wellness and a corporate culture of health prevails even as the challenges and inconsistencies found in our previous surveys persist. Participation rates indicate that employers are still struggling to find effective approaches to motivate workers. And there is a significant gap between employers’ stated desire to create a culture of health and their current status.

Other key findings include:

  • Human Resource polices related to flexible work arrangements and paid time off ranked as the number one component of wellness programs globally, with Employee Assistance Programs ranking number two, driven by their prevalence in the U.S., Canada, Africa, and Australia.
  • Globally, too much stress, too little exercise and a poor diet remain the top wellness issues for employers. This is true everywhere except Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where workers’ safety is the number one concern.
  • In the U.S., employers cite health care costs as the number one reason for workers’ wellness programs. Outside the U.S., employers use wellness programs to improve employee morale and to reduce sick days and presenteeism – when employees are at work but not fully functioning.
  • Employee wellness communication – with personalization of employee messages – is closely linked to health care cost trend reduction. One hundred percent of the U.S. companies reporting a lower health care cost trend of six or more percentage points send their employees targeted wellness emails. The use of wellness mailings to employees’ homes also is on the rise, recognizing the influence that household members have on each other’s health.

We conducted the survey with lead sponsorship by Cigna Corp., and in association with Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting, and the Global Healthy Workplace Awards.

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