A recent study conducted by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota queried business leaders nationwide to determine what they thought of workplace-sponsored wellness programs, whether they had implemented them in their own business settings, and how well those programs were working for their employees. Called “The State of Workplace Wellness in America,” this study ultimately found that small businesses are beginning to view wellness initiatives as an important part of their overall business strategy. In fact, nearly 87 percent of surveyed business executives nationwide believe that workplace wellness programs are beneficial for their companies.
The benefits linked with wellness programs that were cited in the study were numerous. Around 84 percent of respondents said such programs lowered healthcare costs, 84 percent linked them to higher productivity rates, 78 percent said they improved workplace attendance, and 58 percent claimed they reduced workers’ compensation claims. Furthermore, 96 percent of those surveyed said that wellness programs help employees to enjoy healthier lifestyles overall.
Of those small businesses surveyed in the study, 55 percent already had workplace wellness programs in place, although only 42 percent of those were actually tracking ROIs on their functioning programs. There were several reasons that currently prohibited the other 45 percent from implementing their own worksite wellness programs. For 65 percent, cost was a main issue, and 59 percent cited concerns over employee participation levels. Another big factor (for 54 percent of those surveyed) was finding the time to develop a program and get it up and running.
The main goals of those wellness programs that were in place were primarily improving employee health and reducing healthcare costs. Interestingly, the major health issues employers said their employees were struggling with were obesity, stress, and lack of exercise.
Many health insurance plans now feature wellness programs, which can include reduced rates or reimbursements on everything from gym memberships and yoga classes to massage and relaxation services. Many small businesses have found an insurance sponsored plan to be an excellent and relatively easy way of launching a wellness program as part of a small business’s HR offerings.
Lesonsky, Rieva. “Employers Say Wellness Programs Work.” Small Business Trends. 12/19/12.