Staying the Course: Employers Show Commitment to Wellness Despite Economic Hard Times
87 percent of global employers believe it’s their role to manage worker health
NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2013 – Wellness programs are no longer a “soft” issue for organizations around the globe as employers increasingly recognize the value of employees’ health and overall well-being to their organizations’ bottom line. According to the latest report from Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company (NYSE: XRX), employers cite their commitment to promoting health and wellness as a business strategy and show continued desire to expand health promotion initiatives.
“Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies” found that employers, regardless of location, identified improving worker productivity and reducing presenteeism as one of their top wellness program objectives.
“With productivity having a direct tie to bottom-line revenue, organizations now consider health promotion as a core business value that positively impacts their ability to compete,” said Dave Ratcliffe, principal, Buck Consultants. “With signs of job market improvement emerging in the U.S., employers will be challenged to maintain productivity gains earned during the recession as employees have increased job mobility.”
As health promotion takes its place as a top consideration among drivers of profitability and performance, an increasing number of organizations recognize their role in managing employee health – 87 percent in 2012 vs. 75 percent in 2010.
Overall, still only 36 percent of respondents currently measure specific outcomes of their health promotion programs, citing lack of resources (68 percent) and not knowing how to measure (34 percent) as the top reasons for not measuring. The likelihood of measurement increases with employer size, although even among the largest employers (20,000+ employees), only 47 percent report having measured specific outcomes.
Buck’s fifth annual global wellness survey analyzed responses from more than 1,300 organizations in 45 countries representing more than 17 million employees.
Another key finding to emerge in this year’s survey is employers’ reaction to the recent economic downturn between employers who measure program results and those who do not. Thirty percent of employers who measured health promotion program outcomes indicated that they increased their emphasis on wellness programs during tough economic outlook vs. 21 percent of employers who do not measure outcomes.
“Employers who measure program outcomes do so with a greater focus on driving business results,” said Ratcliffe. “A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce, which produces greater revenue that is sustainable over the long term. So these employers understand the value of continuing their wellness initiatives even during hard economic times.”
Further emphasizing the impact on the bottom line, the survey found that 23 percent of U.S. employers indicated their wellness program helped reduce the cost of providing health care benefits to their employees. Of those:
– 62 percent reported health care cost trend rate reductions of 2 percentage points or more.
– 13 percent reported trend rate reductions of 6 percentage points or more.
Other key findings of Buck’s global wellness study include:
– Increase in globalization – Among participating multinational organizations, 49 percent have a global health promotion strategy, up from 34 percent in 2008.
– Program focus: move more, relax and eat better – Though different by specific geographic region, the majority of employers cite physical activity, stress, and workplace safety as the top three issues driving wellness program design.
– Incentives impact on program participation depends on type of activity – The survey shows that incentives have a direct correlation to program participation levels, but initiatives that require long-term lifestyle changes (such as physical exercise and nutrition) are not as greatly influenced by incentives as are more immediate programs (such as health assessment and biometric screenings).
– Wellness initiatives continue to add value over time – While significant results from a wellness program can take years to realize, the survey shows how the impact of wellness programs differs by short-term and long-term payoff.
Additional issues covered by Buck’s global survey include program design, incentives, organizational ownership of wellness programs and communication strategies.
An archived webinar on the survey results and implications is available at:
The global survey results will be further examined at the first Global Healthy Workplace Awards & Summit in London on April 10-12. The summit will bring together leaders in global health and well-being from diverse fields, and finalists for the prestigious Global Healthy Workplace Award will present their solutions.
Buck Consultants’ survey was conducted in association with Integrated Health, a Pfizer Solution, Cigna, vielife and Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting.
About the Research Partners
Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company, is a leader in human resource and benefits consulting with more than 1,500 professionals worldwide. Founded in 1916 to advise clients in establishing and funding some of the nation’s first public and private retirement programs, Buck is an innovator in the areas of retirement benefits, health and welfare programs, talent and human resources solutions, compensation, and employee communication. News and other information about Buck Consultants are available at http://www.buckconsultants.com.
With sales approaching $23 billion, Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. Its technology, expertise and services enable workplaces – from small businesses to large global enterprises – to simplify the way work gets done so they operate more effectively and focus more on what matters most: their real business. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., Xerox offers business process outsourcing and IT outsourcing services, including data processing, healthcare solutions, HR benefits management, finance support, transportation solutions, and customer relationship management services for commercial and government organizations worldwide. The company also provides extensive leading-edge document technology, services, software and genuine Xerox supplies for graphic communication and office printing environments of any size. The 140,000 people of Xerox serve clients in more than 160 countries. For more information, visit http://www.xerox.com, http://news.xerox.com or http://www.realbusiness.com. For investor information, visit http://www.xerox.com/investor.
Integrated Health, a Pfizer Solution, lives where insights and outcomes meet. Built on Pfizer’s heritage of data-driven health innovations, we are creating value-based services and technology solutions that aim to improve health outcomes and reduce wasted costs.
Cigna(R) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being, and sense of security. The operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, and supplemental benefits to people around the world. These services include health coaching and wellness programs.
vielife provides global health and wellbeing solutions that are available in over 26 languages. An online suite of products empowers organizations to track and improve the health and productivity of their employees, through assessments, personalized reports, lifestyle management programs, employee engagement and challenges.
Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting helps international corporations, organizations, and governments improve the quality of life of their respective populations through innovative, culturally appropriate, and cost-effective health promotion programs.
NOTE: The full report is available to the media at no cost by contacting Ed Gadowski at Edward.Gadowski@buckconsultants.com or 910.253.9816. Available to the public: a complimentary executive summary as well as the full survey report for $395. Contact Buck Consultants Surveys by calling 1-800-887-0509 or purchase the report online at http://www.bucksurveys.com.
Ed Gadowski, Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company, +1-910-253-9816, Edward.Gadowski@buckconsultants.com
Nicole Pavlas, Text 100 for Buck Consultants, +1-585-697-2620, email@example.com
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