Most employers think their wellness programs are working, but employees disagree
- While more than half of employers (56%) believe their wellness programs have encouraged employees to live a healthier lifestyle, only 32% of employees agree, new research from Willis Towers Watson (WTW) shows. Employers are over-estimating their health and wellness programs' impact on employees' health-related behaviors, says WTW, a global advisory, broking and solutions company.
- Financial incentives may be important for participation rates. Increasingly employees say they would participate only if offered incentives, WTW said: 46% currently versus 35% in 2011.
- Employers also could potentially improve outcomes in health and well-being programs by providing on-site or near-site services for employees' convenience, leveraging technology, targeting chronic conditions, and using social networks to better engage employees, among other things, WTW researchers said.
Despite research questioning the broader impact of wellness programs, many employers believe they have value. A Virgin Pulse study shows that 78% of employers view employee wellbeing, including wellness programs, as critical to their business's performance. The challenge, however, is making these programs successful for more employees.
Another recent survey revealed a disconnect between employers and workers over the existence of employer-sponsored wellness programs. Although 55% of employers in the study said they offer wellness programs, only 36% of employees said they knew such programs existed.
Communication may be a key first step. Employees need to know not only that wellness programs exists, but what the offerings include. And then, as WTW notes, there are several steps employers can take to keep workers engaged — from on-site services to social networking.