More employers are launching wellness programs, and the majority of organizations currently offering wellness initiatives are looking to invest in and expand them.
That's according to the 2011 Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis North America's Human Capital Practice in Atlanta, a unit of global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, plc (NYSE: WSH).
The national survey found 60 percent of respondents indicated they have some type of wellness program, an increase of 13 percent from 2010. Willis also found 58 percent of employers with wellness programs already in place say they plan to expand their wellness plans with added programs or resources.
"Wellness programs continue to evolve and it is encouraging to see more organizations initiate programs despite economic pressures and continuing challenges in accurately measuring outcomes and results," Jennifer C. Price, senior health outcomes consultant in the Willis Human Capital Practice, said in a news release.
Additional key findings from the survey include:
* Of those organizations with a wellness program, 40 percent reported they have an "intermediate" program in place. The survey defined that as having established a wellness budget and providing some incentives for participation, in addition to offering the voluntary wellness activities of a basic plan.
* The most common types of wellness programs offered by survey respondents include: physical-activity programs (53 percent), tobacco-cessation programs (49 percent), and weight management programs (45 percent).
* When asked about the leading barrier to measuring success of their wellness initiative, 43 percent of employers said it was the difficulty of determining the influence of wellness compared with other factors affecting health-care costs. Insufficient data and not enough staffing/time are other common barriers to measuring success.
The survey included a subset of questions that also asked employers about work/life balance programs. Findings reveal that 51 percent of respondents reported promoting work/life balance initiatives within their worksite-wellness program.
The survey found that helping employees achieve work/life balance is a significant concern of 18 percent of respondents, and somewhat of a concern of 54 percentof respondents. Flexible start/end times are the most common offering of work/life balance program options, reported by 81 percent of respondents.
Willis said it conducted the survey for the global business market, gathering information from 1,598 employers throughout several different industries, locations, and organizational sizes. It said 57 percent of the respondents had fewer than 1,000 employees and 42 percent had fewer than 500 workers. Willis conducted this survey through a web-based program.