2016 Shows A Dip in Wellness Benefits

Vol. 6 No. 10

riskmanager eletter Vol6 No10 wellnessbenefits

Over the last decade, there has been an upward trend for employers to incorporate wellness programs into their employee incentive and benefit portfolios. Such benefits have been considered tools, helping to reduce health insurance costs and paid sick time as well as boost overall employee morale. However, a new study shows that companies are starting to move in the other direction concerning wellness benefits—cancelling incentives due to a perceived lack of ROI and participation.

Can it be that the wellness bubble has popped?

Talent Management recently posted a video on June 2016, addressing a decline in companies offering wellness benefits such as flu shots, fitness competitions, 24-hour nurse hotlines, healthy food options, and the like. This video is in response to a survey recently published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) compiling findings from 3,490 HR professionals randomly selected from the SHRM database. Of those participating in the survey, 11% work in educational services which SHRM defines as elementary and secondary schools, junior colleges, colleges and universities, business schools and computer and management training institutes, technical and trade schools, educational support services, other educational services.

The survey shows a sharp decline in some wellness benefits from 2015 to 2016.

  • Wellness resources in 2015 were offered by 80% of responding companies, compared to 72% in 2016.
  • Wellness programs in general were offered by 70% of companies in 2015, compared to 61% in 2016.
  • Flu vaccines were offered by 61% of companies in 2015, compared to 54% in 2016.
  • 24-hour nurse hotlines were offered by 51% of companies in 2015, compared to 44% in 2016.
  • Health and lifestyle coaching was offered by 46% of companies in 2015, compared to 37% in 2016.
  • On-site health screenings were offered by 43% of companies in 2015, compared to only 31% in 2016.
  • Health care premium discounts for getting an annual health risk assessment was offered by 25% of companies in 2015, compared to 18% in 2016.
  • Health care premium discounts for not using tobacco products was offered by 19% of companies in 2015, compared to 15% in 2016.

Although the report has found most wellness benefits on the decline, there are some that have gained statistical popularity.

  • Rewards/bonuses for completing certain health/wellness programs were offered by 40% of responding companies in 2015, compared to 41% in 2016.
  • Standing desks were offered by 25% of companies in 2015, compared to 33% in 2016.
  • Onsite fitness centers were offered by 21% of companies in 2015, compared to 26% in 2016.
  • Onsite nap rooms were offered by 2% of companies in 2015, compared to 4% in 2016.

Download the complete report here.

What does this mean for the future of wellness benefits? HR professionals haven’t drawn clear conclusions from the report’s findings … yet. Some speculate that increased health care costs have emptied the employer pot for extra wellness incentives. Others think that programs have been so effective, employees are capable of and actively making smarter decisions about their health, so participation has decreased. Perhaps another survey will be compiled providing insight on why wellness benefits are on a downward trend.

Additional ISM resources
The Source for Business Managers Vol. 12 No. 1 Employee Benefits You Might Not Think of as Benefits
The Source for Risk Managers Vol. 6 No. 5 Burnt Our Parents. Burnt Out Employees.

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