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Employer Wellness Programs on the Rise: Willis


Posted on 04 Apr 2012

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More employers continue to start wellness programs, and the majority of organizations with programs currently in place are looking to invest and expand, according to the 2011 Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis North America's Human Capital Practice, a unit of Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker.

According to the survey, available here, 60% of respondents indicated they have some type of wellness program, an increase of 13% from 2010. Additionally, employers are not scaling back- 58% indicate they plan to expand their wellness initiatives with added programs or resources.

The survey represents the findings received from 1,598 employers representing a cross-section of industries, locations and organizational sizes. 44% of respondents had 1,000 or more employees. Additional key findings from the survey include:


    •    60% of employers indicated they had some type of wellness program. Of those with a wellness program, 40% reported they have an “intermediate” program in place.
    •    The most common types of wellness programs being offered by respondents include: Physical activity programs (53%), Tobacco cessation programs (49%) and Weight management programs (45%).
    •    Although 29% of survey respondents consider themselves to be a global organization, only 15% indicate they have implemented a wellness program for their global employees.
    •    43% of employers said the leading barrier to measuring success was difficulty in determining the influence of wellness compared with other factors impacting health care costs. Insufficient data and not enough staffing/time remain common barriers to measuring success.

This year’s survey included a subset of questions that also asked employers about Work/Life balance programs. Findings reveal that 51% of respondents reported promoting Work/Life balance programs within their worksite wellness program. After Employee Assistance Programs, flexible start/end times are the most common offering of Work Life Balance program options, reported by 81% of respondents. The survey also found helping employees achieve work/life balance is reported to be a significant concern by 18% of respondents, and somewhat of a concern by 54%.

“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,” said Jennifer C. Price, Senior Health Outcomes Consultant, Willis Human Capital Practice.

“Additionally it is exciting to see more employers offering Work-Life balance programs as a part of their broader wellness efforts. Employers seem to realize that employees need resources to find the proper balance between the demands of work and personal life.”


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