- Almost half of the nation's employers offer workplace health or wellness programs, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and RTI International.
- In Results of the Workplace Health in America Survey, researchers found about 12% of workplaces offer comprehensive health promotion programs, which include supportive social and physical environments as well as health screenings with follow-up and education. Among employers with 50 or more workers, about 17% offer comprehensive health promotion programs, researchers said.
- Three factors were independent predictors of having a comprehensive health promotion program: at least one person was assigned responsibility for the program, a budget was allocated for the program and the employer had several years of experience with health promotion programming, the researchers said.
An employer's wellness program can be a powerful draw for candidates. A majority of U.S. workers said health and wellness programs are a consideration when they decide to work for a company in a recent OfficeTeam survey. Candidates have also indicated that they would leave their current job for another with better overall benefits. But a recent 18-month study of comprehensive wellness programs offered by BJ's Wholesale Club indicates that there might not be much concrete ROI from wellness programs for employers. BJ's workplaces in which the programs were offered reported better health behaviors, such as regular exercise and active weight management, but no improvement in clinical measures of health, healthcare spending, healthcare utilization or absenteeism.
Some data suggests that personalization and total well-being support might be the best way to design and implement the programs. Personalized wellness programs, combined with a variety of non-cash incentives like paid time off, would motivate 80% of employees to be more engaged, according to a Welltok report. More than 60% of those surveyed said they want help from their employer across all facets of health, with financial health being their top priority. But Welltok also found that employers are missing this opportunity; 84% of employees in the survey said their company offers "one-size-fits-all" programs and 56% of employees said they have received irrelevant support.
Smaller employers may need "special focused attention," with respect to health programs since they tend to offer fewer such benefits compared to larger employers, professor Laura Linnan, one of the lead authors of the UNC study, said in a statement. Smaller employers might be able to address the problem, Linnan said, by integrating health programs into existing resources for company safety.