Employers Gain Increased Productivity And Engagement With Culture Of Wellness

LOUISVILLE, KY — Employers that establish a defined workplace culture of wellness can achieve widespread positive impact on the health and productivity of their employees while increasing engagement in company mission and goals, according to a study released today by Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The study, entitled “The Wellness Effect: The Impact of Workplace Programs,” explored insight into the scope, reach and impact of workplace wellness programs as well as the challenges and opportunities that continue to shape their development. The study was specific in evaluating health and well-being benefits offered by large employers versus small employers who may lack resources in implementing formal wellness programs.
Conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Humana, the study surveyed over 200 U.S.-based human resources (HR) executives and managers and 500 full-time employees from organizations with employer-provided wellness programs. Study details are available here.
Employees who work for organizations that support a culture of wellness tend to derive greater benefit from participation in wellness programs, particularly in terms of increased engagement in employer mission and goals, stress, and overall happiness or well-being.
Some 67 percent of employees found participation in wellness programs increased their engagement in their employer’s mission and goals. The survey found 91 percent of employees participating in wellness programs have improved their fitness while 89 percent say participation has improved their overall happiness and well-being.
“About seven in 10 companies in the U.S. have been broadly successful in establishing a culture of wellness, and employee recognition of that effort is rewarding employers with increased productivity, retention and workplace engagement and improved morale,” said Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Group Segment. “The survey findings suggest that employers who tailor well-designed wellness programs to specific employee needs, and then make them easily accessible in terms of time and location, achieve highest positive impact.”
Despite recognition of the benefits of being employed in a corporate culture of wellness, many employees point to one major obstacle to greater participation in wellness programs: lack of time. Employers and employees agree (46 percent and 51 percent, respectively) the biggest obstacle to increased participation is simply not enough hours in the day.
“Another pervasive threat to wellness, and one that has not yet been adequately addressed, is work-related stress,” noted Bierbower. “Over half of employees believe work-related stress has taken a toll on their health. More formalized stress management programs must be a top priority for employers and employees in the future.”
About 44 percent of employer respondents say that stress management programs would be the single most effective way of establishing a culture of wellness. While only 14 percent of employees regularly participate in stress management programs, some 71 percent of employees say that wellness programs have had at least a moderate impact in lowering stress.
Key small business findings from the study include:
  • Smaller employers have lower participation rates (only 34 percent of small companies have half the workforce participating in wellness programs) but smaller companies are often agile enough to influence wellness culture quickly and informally.
  • The most important reasons for small employers to offer wellness programs are improving health outcomes (50 percent of small companies), reducing employer health plan costs (38 percent of small companies) and improving employee productivity (36 percent of small companies).

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