Wellness in the Workplace
Reuters is reporting that employers nationwide have increased financial incentives that are allotted to employee wellness program participation significantly. This is quite concerning, considering that many critics of wellness incorporation in the work place overall view health and wellness bench marking as unnecessary. This report displays a certain level of negativity regarding the fact that companies are continually having to give their employees a reason to participate in health promotion programs.
In a survey of 121 employers conducted by the team of a boutique consulting firm called The National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, results showed that these incentives are becoming larger over time. The number has reached record height, coming in at $693 per employee in 2015. In 2014, the amount of funding allotted to these programs was $594, a dramatic increase over five years from 2009, when the number was $430. Larger companies, specifically with more than 20,000 employees, are doling out $878 to employees annually.
This important survey comes at a time when there have been many controversies surrounding the effectiveness of these programs, along with the idea of government intrusion into private business. Some critics have also claimed that the passing of legislation that penalizes employees for not participating in wellness programs, some deemed voluntary, is a gross form of government intrusion. At this point in time, it seems as if employers are required to almost bribe employees to participate.
Looking at the big picture, the survey conveys that of the 121 companies, 79% even have wellness programs to begin with. A employer-sponsored wellness program has a broad definition but could be defined as any program including some sort of weight management, tobacco management, health questionnaire distribution, blood work analysis, or any other type of health monitoring initiative that gives employers an opportunity to understand the health of their worker population. They can come in the form of insurance premium reduction, cash, or the incorporation of an employee-managed healthcare account.
With a focus on the prevention of chronic disease and the development of other conditions, employer-sponsored wellness programs are a crucial step in helping the working population start caring about and paying attention to their health. While this survey is a small sample of businesses nationwide, it gives us an accurate summation of how employers are handling their wellness initiatives and specifically, the funding patterns of these initiatives.