The majority of workers (62 percent) said they recognize the rewards of participating in workplace wellness programs, such as improving health and reducing health risks, according to recent research from Principal Financial. This has increased from 55 percent in 2011, the study noted. In addition, 51 percent of wellness program participants feel wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better, and another 59 percent of program participants say they have more energy to be productive at work as a result of their participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs.
“As wellness programs become more established in the workplace, we are seeing a growing number of employees appreciate—and expect—that their employer offers these benefits,” said Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group. “In the wake of the financial crisis, which has left many companies stretched thin, maintaining a productive workforce is a priority for organizations.”
Nearly half (45 percent) of employees agreed that an employer-sponsored wellness program would encourage them to stay in their current employment situation, up from 40 percent 2011. Additionally, 43 percent of participants say wellness programs have led them to miss fewer days of work, up 8 percent from 2011. Despite the apparent benefits, 34 percent of workers still do not participate in any of the wellness programs offered by their employers.
Employer Incentives On The Rise
As wellness programs become more popular, employers are offering a variety of ways to encourage employees to participate. The survey found that the top three ways employees are encouraged by their employers to participate in wellness programs are: encouragement by management (20 percent); lower health insurance costs to those who participate (20 percent); or allotted time for participation during the workday (20 percent, up from 9 percent). Only 36 percent of employees said that their employers do not offer any encouragement to participate in wellness benefits, a significant divergence from the previous three years, when about half of participants said their employer did nothing to encourage wellness program participation.
Participants also cited an increase in the following employer incentives:
• Seventeen percent (up from 9 percent) said their employer offers contributions into a health savings account or health reimbursement account;
• Sixteen percent (up from 12 percent), said their employer provides other financial incentives such as gift certificates or discounts for those who participate; and
• Ten percent (up from 6 percent) reported that their employer rewards additional paid time off from work to participants.
The survey was conducted between October 30 and November 7, 2012 and contains responses from 1,103 employees. For more information, visit http://www.principal.com/about/news/2013/usis-wellness-summary013013.htm.
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