New trends are on the horizon for wellness programs and initiatives. According to a September 2010 survey by Towers Watson, a professional services company, 65 percent of respondents intend to enhance their wellness incentives during 2011. But, 62 percent advised that in 2012, they will switch initiatives from rewards as you go, to rewards for proven action and results.
The survey consisted of 466 large to midsize businesses and shows a new trend that is leaning toward employers rewarding employees for obtained objectives, rather on simple participation.
Lisa Zamosky, writing for the Los Angeles Times, explains that the programs may require employees to see a health coach, attend weight management programs, show healthier blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or join programs to quit smoking. The employee will need to show results for his/her efforts, not just effort.
This puts a unique spin on incentives for employees. Knowing there are rewards for successes, employees may be more inclined to go the distance and actually achieve results. This in turn will benefit the company in reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity.
LuAnn Heinen is vice president of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large U.S. employers, and explains, “Employers see unhealthy lifestyle as the biggest barrier to providing affordable healthcare coverage.”
Zamosky notes that these views are founded; a Duke University study demonstrated “that annual U.S. employee health and productivity costs associated with obesity alone are an estimated $73.1 billion. And there's no sign of that expense decreasing.”
Wellness programs, whether traditional or reformed, are here to stay, especially since the new health reform stresses wellness and prevention. This along with government incentives to businesses with wellness programs in place is driving the employee health initiative into high gear.