Somewhere along the line, some benefits analysts got the idea that wellness programs worked best — and got the most ROI — for bigger companies. The actual numbers tell a different story.
A three-year study of 372 small, medium and large companies by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management shows they’re investing in wellness and oftentimes getting a good return on the investment.
Some of the findings:
- The per-employee amount invested in wellness rose from $204 to $329 in the last year. About two-thirds of the companies said they’d at least broken even on their investment — measured by such factors as decreased sick days, fewer claims for major illnesses and slowed increases in insurance premiums.
- The most commonly used incentive is premium reductions, followed by merchandise/tokens and gift cards.
- More than half of the companies surveyed offer health and wellness or disease-management programs to spouses, and a third extend the programs to other family members.
- Two out of three employers — large, midsize and small — offer a health-risk assessment questionnaire to employees, and nearly three out of four of those offer incentives to take it. Incentives to take the questionnaire mostly range up to $300 annually, with about 10% to 15% exceeding $300.
- Smoking-cessation programs are the most popular health and wellness program offered. More than half of employers surveyed (53%) offer smoking cessation to employees, but weight management and physical activity programs are not far behind.
- Diabetes programs are the most popular disease-management program offered. Among those employers that offer disease management programs,
92% offer diabetes programs, making them the most common disease-management program offered in 2009.
- Some organizations with as few as 210 employees are offering incentives valued at $1,450 per year to keep employees healthy, well above the average.
- The percentage of companies successfully measuring return on investment for health and wellness programs has sharply increased over the years, from 14% in 2007 to 73% in 2009. Some 83% of those who have measured say the programs return better than 1:1 on their investment. In growing numbers, employers are rewarding goal achievement during and after health and wellness program completion.
To order the full study, go here and look for the link on the right side of the page.