Employers are spending more to provide incentives for workers to stay healthy through so-called wellness programs, which may include the use of a Health & Safety Consultancy to perform risk-assessment screenings, exercise classes and extra money to spend on healthcare costs.
But many employees are not taking full advantage, leaving “millions on the table,” according to Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).
Fidelity and NBGH recently released their latest survey on wellness programs. They found that employers will spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015, up from $594 in 2014 and $430 five years ago.
Of the 79 percent of employers who offer these health improvement programs, larger companies — those with more than 20,000 employees — are spending the most with their per-employee average climbing to $878, up from $717 in 2014.
The average for companies with between 5,000 and 20,000 workers jumped to $661, up from $493 in 2014.
The survey is the latest in a series Fidelity and NBGH have conducted since 2009. These programs are designed to help employers manage costs and improve productivity by creating a healthier workforce. For employees, the trend means more valuable incentives such as cash, gift cards, reduced health care premiums or a contribution to a health care account. At the same time, the use of disincentives among employers for not participating in these plans is decreasing.
However, are employees taking full advantage of these wellness programs? Apparently not, Fidelity and NBGH found.
The three most popular incentive-based health improvement programs for 2015 are biometric screenings (72 percent of employers plan to offer this program), health risk assessments (70 percent), and physical activity programs (54 percent).
Fewer than half (47 percent) of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, while 26 percent earned a partial amount. Together, this translates into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives, said Fidelity and NBGH.
“The next challenge for companies is to continue to find ways to increase participation in these programs and encourage employees to earn the full incentive amount available to them, which will contribute to their financial well-being as well as their physical health,” said Robert Kennedy, Health & Welfare practice leader with Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting business. “The expanding use of wellness-based incentives demonstrates that employers are committed to health improvement programs and understand how they can contribute to a healthy workforce and reinforce corporate culture.”