Workers underwhelmed by employer wellness programs

By Greg Hamilton • Published: February 27th, 2018
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When companies began offering more robust employee wellness programs several years ago, they were welcomed by workers who saw them as avenues toward better health and a tangible sign that the bosses actually cared about them. These days, the bloom may be off the rose.

A recent survey of more than 31,000 employees around the country found only a third of the respondents thought their company’s wellness programs helped them lead healthier lives. A surprising 60 percent reported being dissatisfied with the programs, according to the Willis Towers Watson Global Benefits Attitudes Survey.

And the workers were not the only ones who were less than impressed. The survey found just over half of the employers felt their wellness programs improved their workers’ health behaviors.

On the bright side, nearly three-quarters of the employers said they are looking for ways to improve the plans, including adding more mental health programs. One way they could make the programs better is to design programs that use new technologies and leverage the resources already in the workplace. Those employees who were happiest reported working for companies that provided onsite health clinics, for example.

Companies today face daunting wellness challenges that go beyond the traditional aims of getting employees to stop smoking or to lose weight. Issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse can be overwhelming for workers who cannot leave these deep concerns at the office door. The survey team suggested that employers create strategies that span all four dimensions of well-being: physical, emotional, financial and social to help build and support a healthy, high-performing workforce.