incentives workplace wellness

Report Highlights How Companies — Big and Small — Utilize Workplace Wellness Programs

Yesterday we continued our reporting on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s  2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey, which includes important insights around the benefits of a well-run workplace wellness program.

A key part of the report: An analysis on wellness and health promotion programs.

The report states: “Many firms and health plans offer programs to help workers engage in healthy lifestyles and reduce health risks. Wellness and health promotion programs may include exercise programs, health education classes, and stress-management counseling. These programs may be offered directly by the firm, an insurer, or a third-party contractor.”

“Among firms offering health benefits, 40% of small firms and 72% of large firms offer programs to help workers stop smoking, 34% of small firms and 67% of large firms offer programs to help workers lose weight, and 47% of small firms and 72% of large firms offer some other lifestyle or behavioral coaching program. Fifty-eight percent of small firms and 85% of large firms offering health benefits offer at least one of these three programs.”

The study also looks at incentives and how they might encourage participation in wellness programs.

  • “Thirty-two percent of large firms offering one of these wellness or health promotion programs offer an incentive to encourage workers to participate in or complete the programs. Forty-six percent of firms with more than 5,000 workers offering one of these wellness or health promotion programs offer an incentive to participate in or complete the programs.”
  • “Among large firms offering incentives to workers to participate in or complete wellness or health promotion programs, 19% lower premium contributions or reduce cost sharing and 37% offer cash , HSA or HRA contributions, or allow the worker to avoid a payroll deduction.”
  • “Firms with incentives for health risk assessments, biometric screening, or wellness or health promotion programs were asked to report the maximum reward or penalty a worker could earn for all of the firm’s health promotion activities combined. Some firms do not offer incentives for individual activities, but offer rewards to workers who complete a variety of activities. Among large firms offering incentives for any of these programs, the maximum value for all wellness-related incentives is $150 or less in 25% of firms and more than $1,000 in 19% of firms.”

And how effective are the incentives?

“Firms with incentives for health risk assessments, biometric screening, or wellness or health promotion programs were also asked how effective they believed incentives were for encouraging participation. Thirty-four percent of large firms offering incentives for any one of these programs said the incentives are ‘very effective’ at encouraging workers to participate and 58% said the incentives are ‘somewhat effective,’ while 7% said the incentives are ‘not at all effective.’”

As noted: The report highlights the growing role that companies see for a well-run workplace wellness program in terms of helping reduce over health costs and improve employee health: “Firms continue to show considerable interest in programs that help workers identify health issues and manage chronic conditions. Many employers believe that improving the health of their workers and their family members can improve morale, productivity and reduce health care costs. In addition to wellness programs, many large firms use disease management programs to help workers manage chronic conditions.”