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Companies Continue To Add Wellness Programs, Watson Wyatt/National Business Group On Health Survey Finds
Date:4/15/2009

Financial Incentives to Encourage Program Use Vary in Effectiveness

WASHINGTON, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the recession and recent cutbacks in some benefit programs, companies continue to add wellness and health management programs to promote healthier behaviors among their workers. Additionally, companies are finding greater success by offering workers financial incentives for participation in these programs, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), an association of more than 300 mostly large employers.

Employer interest in programs that promote a healthier workforce continues to increase, the survey found. For example, nearly six in 10 companies (58 percent) offer lifestyle improvement programs, up from 43 percent in 2007, while 56 percent offer health coaches compared with 44 percent in 2007. The number of weight management programs is also on the rise, offered by 52 percent of companies, up from 42 percent in 2007. Also, health risk appraisals are offered by 80 percent of companies, up from 72 percent in 2007, according to the survey of 489 large U.S. employers conducted in January.

"Employers continue to see gains from promoting wellness and health management initiatives," said Scott Keyes, senior group and health care consultant at Watson Wyatt. "Effective financial incentives are one of the keys to encouraging worker participation in these programs -- an effort that not only improves the health of workers but also helps reduce costs."

Companies that offer financial incentives report significantly higher participation in lifestyle management and wellness programs, according to the survey. However, employee participation in some wellness programs remains low. For example, despite the rapid rise in obesity across the United States, 40 percent of companies report that less than 5 percent of their wo
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SOURCE Watson Wyatt Worldwide
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