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Wellness in the Workplace — Survey Results from a Zywave, Inc. Survey

October 19, 2011

With many companies January 1 renewals just around the corner (yes, it really is mid-October already) many company leaders are wondering what a wellness program can do for their company.

In the summer of 2011, Zywave, Inc. conducted a survey of 1,761 MyWave portal users to help determine what companies are doing correctly and incorrectly with their wellness plans. The results of this wellness survey were recently released and will be available in greater detail to our clients on their portals later this month.

52% of respondents stated that workplace wellness programs are somewhat effective or very effective at reducing the growth of health insurance costs. Wellness programs are meant to help employees get in better shape and live a healthier lifestyle. When your employees are living healthier, this usually means they are visiting the doctor less. Visiting the doctor less, can sometimes translate into lower premiums for a group. Lower premiums are proving to be an issue in the coming year with 58% of survey respondents saying they are planning to increase the amount their employees contribute toward their health insurance coverage.

82% and 87% of respondents in this survey said that their wellness program helped reduce health care costs and improved employee health/reduced absenteeism, respectively. While a wellness program cannot guarantee lower costs, or fewer missed work days it can be a step in the right direction for a company struggling with high benefits costs and/or a high rate of absenteeism due to illness.

However, many times just implementing a wellness program isn’t enough. Some employees will join a wellness program simply for their own benefit. Others however, will need to have an incentive to join and keep up with the program. 52% of those surveyed they use some sort of incentive for participation in their wellness program. These incentives included gifts, gift cards, merchandise, cash, and/or the employee contributing a smaller amount toward their monthly premium.

According to the Zywave, Inc. survey, “…69% of employers offering wellness programs have employee participation levels at or below 50%”. If you want your wellness program to succeed and pay off, the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA) suggests you use the Seven C’s to build an effective and comprehensive wellness program.

The Seven C’s:

  1. Capture senior level support.
  2. Create a wellness team.
  3. Collect data that will drive your health initiatives.
  4. Craft an annual operating plan.
  5. Choose appropriate health initiatives.
  6. Create a supportive environment.
  7. Consistently evaluate your outcomes.

Having a well-respected and well implemented wellness program is the first step to gaining support from employees. Remember that simply starting a program is not enough. You must have a team in place to periodically re-evaluate and re-vamp your wellness program. What works today may not work tomorrow and if your employees become bored with the program you are likely to see a smaller return on investment.

Finally, keep in mind that the 3 biggest barriers employers encounter when implementing a wellness program are time, lack of participation, and money. No matter how large or small your company is, you need to have a plan in place to help combat these 3 barriers.

For information on how you can see the survey, or how Employee Benefit Advisors can help you with your employee benefits e-mail us at: sales at ebainsure dot com.

Thanks for reading!

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