Survey: Wellness Tops Priority List For Employers, Over ACA

July 25, 2016

A survey from HUB International revealed that more employers ranked wellness (83%) and cost management (76%) as a top priority than ACA compliance (60%).  The study focused on small and middle market companies by surveying 400 senior-level human resource and finance executives from companies with 50 to 1,000 employees.  Broken down further by employer size, wellness and productivity is a top concern for 90% of organizations with 500 to 1,000 employees; 81% of those with 100 to 499 employees; and 78% of organizations with 50-99 employees.

With wellness in such high demand, the million-dollar question still exits: how do employers improve wellness return on investment (ROI) value on investment (VOI)?  According to the survey, the less tangible benefits of wellness programs have proven harder to measure.  Just 35% of employers reported improved productivity and 35% cited improved morale.  Employee turnover, absenteeism, and chronic disease management had even lower rates of measurable improvement.  According to Linda Keller, National Chief Operating Officer of Employee Benefits for HUB International, “Those results are harder to measure.  As employers are moving forward on wellness programs, they’re structuring them more around employee engagement, employee productivity, and employee morale.”

If more employers are focusing on employee engagement, employee productivity, and employee morale, why are more employers not dropping programs that don’t deliver directly on these specific benefits, like biometric screenings and health risk assessments (HRAs)?  Specifically, legacy wellness programs do nothing to engage employees with the company or their colleagues.  Also, these programs are one-time events so the concept of sustainable engagement does not even apply.  To be fair, screenings and HRAs are precursors to other programs like health coaching, but these costly services often have limited employee engagement impacts as well.

Employers also need to think closely about how they measure the intangibles.  At the very least, employers need to incorporate regular surveys throughout their program.  Wellable initiates surveys after each challenge.  Surveys can help capture the qualitative factors often unseen through traditional quantitative data, such as employee morale.  Surveys also help identify areas an employer can improve their program going forward.

Topics: Corporate Wellness

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