As it turns out, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t hold true when it comes to employers’ health and wellness programs. Here’s how to get more workers into your programs so they can get more out of them.
By Maura C. Ciccarelli
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Even though it’s been estimated that up to 85 percent of organizations offer health and wellness benefits to employees, a recent Brodeur Partners survey showed that only 34 percent of 542 adult American workers said their employer offered such programs. Less than half the respondents — 45 percent — said they do participate or would if their employer had one.
With disappointing numbers like these, is it any wonder that HR professionals are struggling to make wellness programs appealing, relevant and as broadly accessible as possible? The payoffs for programs that provide a mix of measuring biometrics and offering employees challenges and incentives can be great. For employees, improving their eating and exercise habits and reducing risky behaviors such as tobacco use can improve their health and well-being and make them feel better about themselves and their company. Employers, meanwhile, get bottom-line boosts from reduced healthcare costs and improvements in employee engagement, retention and productivity.
“Clearly, there’s a disconnect,” says Andrea Coville, chief executive officer of Brodeur Partners, a strategic communications consulting company based in Boston. “Either employees aren’t getting the memo about the programs that exist in their workplaces or they don’t consider what their employers are offering to be true wellness programs.”
Other recent surveys echo the Brodeur results. A 2014 Gallup survey said that, although 85 percent of U.S. employers with 1,000 or more workers offered wellness programs, only 60 percent of workers knew about those programs and only 40 percent participated.