More Employers Commit to Employee Wellness

Employers are trading return on investment (ROI) numbers for the prevalence of worker health and well being when it comes to workplace wellness programs. Continued increases in productivity and decreases in absenteeism strengthen the case for workplace wellness programs, according to findings from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Workplace Wellness Survey Report.


The survey found 75 percent of employers offer wellness initiatives primarily to improve overall worker health and well being. Only one in four employers said the main reason for offering wellness initiatives is to control/reduce health-related costs.


“Employers are realizing that wellness is not just about cutting health care costs, because wellness is not only about physical health,“ said Julie Stich, CEBS, associate vice president of content at the International Foundation. “Embracing the broad definition of wellness has led to a tremendous impact on organizational health and worker productivity and happiness.”


Among employers offering and measuring their wellness efforts, more than half have found a decrease in absenteeism, 63 percent are experiencing financial sustainability and growth in the organization, 66 percent reported increased productivity and 67 percent said employees are more satisfied.

According to the survey, 77 percent of employers offer free or discounted flu shots, so traditional wellness offerings continue to gain steam. Popular emerging wellness benefits include:

  • Chiropractic services coverage — 62 percent
  • Community charity drives/events — 59 percent
  • On-site events/celebrations — 58 percent
  • Wellness competitions like walking/fitness challenges — 51 percent
  • Healthy food choices in cafeteria or vending machines — 44 percent
  • Standing/walking workstations — 42 percent
  • Wearable fitness trackers — 23 percent

Even though 92 percent of workplaces offering wellness programs and tracking wellness ROI report their initiatives as very or somewhat successful, barriers still exist in implementing wellness initiatives. Common barriers include:

  • Difficulty for workers to find enough time to participate — 39 percent
  • Dispersed population — 27 percent
  • Difficulty maintaining momentum — 26 percent
  • Prohibitive costs — 25 percent
  • Lack of interest by workers — 24 percent

Employers are using wellness incentives like gift cards, gym reimbursements and contributions to health accounts (HSAs, HRAs or FSAs) to help build interest among workers, and most are considering the incentives to be successful.

For more information and to read the full survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/workplacewellness.