The survey, conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, Inc., additionally revealed that employees place a premium on the culture of wellness, with 87 percent claiming that health and wellness programs play a role in determining their employer of choice. However, quantifying the bottom-line impact of these programs continues to be a challenge for employers. Of the 1,300 businesses surveyed, 80 percent offer health and wellness benefits. Among that group, 47 percent have extended those health and wellness benefits to spouses of employees as broadening programs beyond the four walls of the corporation is becoming a fast-growing trend of the wellness culture. Employees are responding positively to this new trend: 77 percent claimed that health and wellness programs positively impact the culture at work. “Creating a culture-first mentality is a critical step for employers when it comes to building a highly engaged workforce,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. “The trends outlined within this survey mirror what we’re seeing in the market: employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.”
Though the Virgin HealthMiles survey found a data field in which the majority of employers offered wellness benefits, the reality is, many do not offer them. In UBA’s 2013 Health Plan Survey, just 19.2 percent of employers nationwide offered wellness incentives. Of the incentives offered, 44.2 percent were cash to premium, 401(k)s or some other monetary product. Extra paid time off accounted for 6.1 percent of the incentives, while gift certificates or health club dues comprised 46.1 percent.
UBA’s wellness data go deeper, though. Of the 19.2 percent of employers offering a wellness plan, nearly 60 percent are using their insurance company, which is a 6 percent increase, while the other 40 percent are using an independent wellness firm, a decrease of almost 8 percent from 2012. Incentives and rewards declined 4.7 percent this year, but are still included in 62 percent of wellness plans. Trends indicate that the most effective type of wellness strategy includes coaching, which increased 9.5 percent and now makes up 56 percent of all wellness plans offered. “The foundation of health insurance has always been wrong,” said UBA CEO Thom Mangan. “We have treated health insurance as a way to care for a person once they are sick. Employers and their covered employees have to turn the system upside down and design their health plans to keep people healthy in order for health insurance trends to bend in the reverse direction. Workers Compensation and Safety Management is engrained in the culture of nearly every major corporation; most manufacturers employ Safety Engineers and have a corporate culture that celebrates their lack of claims resulting in negative Workers Compensation Premium Inflation. Until this happens in the Health Insurance field, Medical Insurance Inflation will continue to outstrip wages by multiples of 3 to 5 times every year.”