New Study Finds Employee Wellness Programs on the Rise

by: Nichole Gunn May 10, 2011

Employee health and wellness programs have long had proponents who proclaimed the benefits these initiatives can have on the health of both employees and the company. Well, a new market survey and analysis conducted by DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance offers an in depth analysis reflecting new industry trends.

According to an article on Website101, the study titled, “Population Health Improvement: A Market Survey Report,” consisted of survey responses from 135 purchasers and providers of health and wellness services, and examines several metrics, including: the use of programs and their success rates, and forms of intervention. It also provides an inclusive analysis of market trends, such as insourcing and outsourcing, and purchasing projections and goals.

Findings conclude that businesses are taking advantage of employee wellness programs more than ever. And, employers are designing program features specifically toward individuals, along with enhancing the reach of the programs to encompass all workers. Results also show that employers see wellness programs as a necessary element toward financial and employee well-being, in effect, productivity. Along with this, the majority of purchasers believe that incentives, such as premium discounts, are vital to the success of the program.

According to DMAA president and CEO Tracey Moorhead, “This survey shows employers view workplace health promotion programs as key contributors to financial well-being, as well as to employee health and productivity." She added, “The continued strength of these programs in the face of a challenging economy demonstrates their value to purchasers."

Another important aspect of the study’s findings shows that most of the businesses devoting time and money in these employee wellness programs are aiming at ensuring physician integration. The article notes, “Nearly all purchasers view population health improvement as supporting the physician-patient relationship, and both groups ranked physician engagement highly as a critical component of program success.”

Statistics of the survey demonstrate that 73 percent of purchasers will provide “population health improvement programs” over the next year, and 76 percent are planning to implement these programs by December 2011. In regard to purchasers who already have programs in place, 84 percent have plans to add more purchases. These statistics are indicative of employers’ commitment to workforce health interventions.

The employee wellness focus is gaining momentum and the Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Tennessee’s Clayton Homes, a chain with over 50 facilities, implemented a wellness initiative that first aimed at branch managers. Each manager was monitored for food intake and stress levels. Director of the wellness program Margie Kidd noted that “20 to 40 percent of the managers would report high blood pressure readings.”