New Study Provides Data on Health and Wellness Programs

by: Nichole Gunn August 4, 2011

Realizing the importance of health and wellness programs, Virgin HealthMiles conducted a survey of 145 ‘big’ employers and almost 1,400 workers to determine what worked and what didn’t work in regard to various healthcare initiatives.

The survey, prompted by National Employee Wellness Month, discovered that more and more companies are establishing strategies to offset the ever-rising healthcare costs. Almost 90 percent of participants cited taking advantage of wellness initiatives to help reduce rising health expenses. Seventy-five percent cited that employee incentive programs are part of their overall strategies.

As far as what’s on the horizon, over 84 percent of the participants foresee a continued rise in healthcare expenses, noting that healthcare insurance premiums, along with prescriptions are the primary reason for the continued rise. Twenty-three percent cited that initiating employee health and wellness programs contributed significantly in reducing healthcare expenses.

In regard to corporate wellness programs, just about 88 percent of workers cited incentives played a medium to large motivating factor in their participation. Thirty-eight percent of the employers cited annual incentive spending per worker at $100 to $500 yearly. Twenty-two percent of the employers cited their annual spending at $501 to $1,000.

Demonstrating a wellness program’s effectiveness, 69 percent of workers cited enhanced performance levels as a direct result of initiatives in place by their employer; almost 66 percent cited feeling healthier and happier. In addition, 50 percent cited a better body mass index, along with weight loss.

Views on the effectiveness of wellness strategies varied. Thirty-six percent of the employers cited being satisfied to very satisfied with their method of motivating employee wellness, while around two-thirds cited that upon analysis, the data garnered from their initiatives “was either very or somewhat impactful in terms of executive decision-making.”

Trial and error in regard to wellness initiatives will help an employer design a streamlined and successful program.

Focusing on social networks for employees proves to be a valuable tool in implementing an effective wellness program. A little less than half of the employers cited that utilizing social and supportive networking within the workplace motivated worker participation. Almost 35 percent of the employees noted that co-workers were helpful in enhancing their own daily levels of physical activity. This comes from sharing progress status and competitions which help employees to develop camaraderie and accountability. This in turn motivates them to try harder.

Another study, by Aon Hewitt, also focused on wellness initiatives. The survey consisted of over 1,000 workers: 56 percent cited being interested in a healthy lifestyle; less than 50 percent wanted to see a reduction in healthcare expenses.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.