Employees today spend so much time at work – more than half of their waking hours. That’s why many companies recognize the importance of offering programs that help support healthy choices.
As they develop programs, there is no cookie-cutter approach. It’s essential to tailor initiatives to each company’s culture, goals and employee population.
Nonetheless, there are trends in employers’ approaches to wellness and the methods they use to engage their employees and help them achieve health and wellness goals. We’re seeing an overall commitment to wellness, an evolution in the types of incentives employers are using and increasing interest in changing the work environment to encourage healthy choices.
We learned more about how employers view those trends in our Fourth Annual Wellness in the Workplace study:
- Commitment to wellness
Despite the sluggish economy, more than three-quarters of companies expect to maintain or increase their wellness program budgets. And 40 percent project that their budgets would increase over the next three years.
- Evolution in incentives
More than three-quarters of companies offer some type of incentive. But rewards like giveaways, discounts and cash are losing popularity, while health account contributions are gaining steam. And, while it’s currently common for companies to reward for program enrollment and completion, many are considering incentives for achieving a health outcome or making progress toward a specific health goal.
- Attention to the work environment
One-third of companies are already making physical changes to their workplaces in an effort to influence healthy decisions among employees. The top three changes companies have made are creating a smoke-free campus, providing healthier vending machine options and offering healthier entrees in the cafeteria.
—Beena Thomas, Vice President, Health and Wellness, Optum
Beena works with national clients to develop programs that help promote a healthy corporate culture, including innovative engagement strategies for employees. She has implemented wellness programs that reach thousands of people across the United States and has developed a national total health management strategy. Beena has a Master of Public Health from East Tennessee State University.