Nearly 90% of companies pay employees to participate in wellness programs
- Companies continue to expand well-being programs to improve employee health and productivity, according to the latest Health and Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.
- Currently, 86% of employers offer financial incentives for participation in well-being programs, with an average incentive of $784 — up from $742 last year and 50% higher than 2013’s average of $521.
- Nearly three in 10 employers said they plan to continue increasing incentives over the next three to five years.
In addition, 67% of employers intend to offer well-being programs not focused on physical health in coming years. Areas of expansion include emotional health (92%), financial wellness (90%), stress management (77%), community involvement (72%) and social connectedness (60%).
“More employers are viewing holistic well-being as an integral part of their overall workforce strategy,” Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH, said in a statement. “The goal is to create a competitive advantage by deploying the healthiest, most productive, engaged and competitive workforce possible to boost business performance and empower great people and communities.”
The findings reflect growing employer interest in a hands-on approach to employee health.
In fact, with healthcare costs continuing to rise, some employers are skirting traditional insurance plans and contracting directly with providers. According to a recent Willis Tower Watson survey, while just 6% of employers currently work directly with providers, 22% are considering the approach for 2019.
Among big name companies using the tactic are Walmart and Boeing. The latter’s California employees and their dependents are covered via an exclusive partnership with MemorialCare and under the value-based MemorialCare Health Alliance ACO.
Employee health is also at the crux of the Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway alliance, announced in January. The corporate giants aim to tackle the conundrum of rising costs by creating an independent company to address their employees’ healthcare needs.
Apple is also taking a more direct approach to employee health. The tech giant is launching a group of health clinics for employees this spring, starting with two primary care clinics for workers at the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara County, California.
Despite growing employer activism in employee health, there isn't a lot of evidence well-being programs do much good. In a recent study of a wellness program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers found no significant impact on total healthcare costs, personal behaviors, productivity or self-reported health status in people who participated in the program versus those who opted out.
- National Business Group on Health Employers Continue to Expand Well-being Programs and Increase Financial Incentives for Employers