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Monday, June 23, 2008

Employee Wellness Up, But Small Business Lags

A couple of my favorite blogs have picked up on some new studies showing a dramatic jump in the number of U.S. employers offering employee wellness programs.

A survey of more than 1,100 employers of all different shapes and sizes by Aon Consulting in Chicago found a threefold increase in various health and wellness initiatives from 2007 to 2008.

For instance, 46 percent of employers are now implementing smoking-cessation programs, up from 14 percent of employers in 2007, reports Human Resource Executive

Some other interesting program increase

  • 68 percent of companies now offer promotion of exercise/physical activity, up from 19 percent in 2007
  • 60 percent have disease-management programs, up from 18 percent in 2007
  • 48 percent have health-risk appraisals, up from 14 percent in 2007
  • 47 percent have biometric screenings, up from 12 percent in 2007
  • 46 percent have telephone health coaching, up from14 percent in 2007.

In addition, a joint report by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health, both based in Washington, shows that 83 percent of 453 mostly-large companies currently offer health-risk appraisals and wellness initiatives, up from 72 percent in 2007. That’s a 28 percent jump.

An interesting quote to consider from Michael Wood, Watson Wyatt's Seattle-based senior consultant in health and productivity: “Every company is going to have to grapple with the cold truth that their healthcare-cost trends are held hostage by the behaviors of their employees.”

Still, our friends at HR Web Cafe note that the research isn’t uniformly positive: Another survey conducted by Principal Financial Group in Workforce shows that small and mid-sized employers lag well behind their larger counterparts when it comes to wellness offerings.

Only 12% of employers with fewer than 500 employees offered wellness initiatives, compared to 26% of employers with 501 to 1,000 employees.

Small employers need solutions tailored to their budget, not the kind of big programs often sold to large corporations. That’s what we specialize in at Wellness Corporate Solutions—providing high-impact, cost-effective programs tailored to your workforce and designed to maximize your ROI. No matter what size the company.

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