How popular are corporate wellness programs? They’re the #1 area of investment and #1 strategy, according to PwC’s 2016 Health & Well-being Touchstone survey, which found that 76% of the 1,000 employers surveyed are offering corporate wellness programs, up from 73% in the 2015 survey. This is the 9th year PwC has conducted the survey, which examines trends, strategy and administration of US employers’ benefit programs:

Subjects covered include medical, prescription drug, dental plan design, costs, wellness and disease management programs, work-life programs, fringe benefits, retirement benefits, future healthcare strategies and healthcare reform.

The survey lists the following as the most common wellness initiatives:

  • 93% Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • 80% Health risk questionnaires
  • 77% Biometric Screenings
  • 73% Physical activity programs / fitness discounts
  • 73% Tobacco cessation programs

At TotalCare Wellness, we see Health Risk Assessments and Biometric Screenings as gateways to programs that take wellness seriously and that want to add wellness incentives. We also like that PwC included Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) as a component in wellness – all too often, mental health programs are in separate silos, yet the mind-body nexus is pretty inextricably linked. We’ve also found the following to be critical success factors in a wellness program:

  • Wellness coaching to drive and sustain engagement
  • A sustained focus on five key health behaviors: diet & nutrition; fitness; stress; tobacco cessation; and substance counseling
  • A senior-level champion is critical for establishing wellness as a priority
  • Communicating about health and wellness frequently – everything from tips to reminders about coaching and program availability
  • Incentives, which can range from small freebies to substantial health insurance discounts for voluntary participation. (learn more about wellness incentives)

For a look at other successful strategies, SHRM looked at best practices in corporate wellness programs in a summary of a wellness report. These included:

  • Conducting Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) as a baseline survey
  • Identifying a senior-level wellness champion
  • Implementing bold policies that emphasize a culture of wellness
  • Rewarding employees for healthy behaviors and results
  • Communicating frequently with employees across multiple channels

For a deeper dive into the report that SHRM summarizes, see From Evidence to Practice: Workplace Wellness that Works. This is a study conducted by the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with Transamerica Center for Health Studies. This 139-page report delves into what makes corporate wellness programs successful, covering everything from leadership support and communications to benefit plan design. It includes excellent interviews with employers talking about how their corporate wellness programs work.

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