Companies are Spending More on Corporate Wellness Programs but Employees are Leaving Millions on the Table
March 26, 2015
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BOSTON, March 26, 2015 – Employers are expanding their corporate health improvement and wellness programs to improve employee health and create a more positive workplace culture. The latest survey on wellness programs from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) reveals 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% of employers who offer health improvement programs, larger companies, those with more than 20,000 employees, are spending the most on these programs, where the per-employee average climbed to $878, up from $717 in 2014. The average for companies with between 5,000 and 20,000 workers rose to $661, up from $493 in 2014.
The survey is the latest in a series Fidelity and NBGH have conducted since 2009 to analyze the growth and design of corporate health improvement programs, which are designed to help employers manage costs and improve productivity by creating a healthier workforce.
Companies continue to offer incentives to drive participation in wellness programs…
As the design of wellness programs evolves, employers are increasingly using incentives, such as cash, gift cards, reduced health care premiums or a contribution to a health care account, to encourage employees to participate. At the same time, the use of disincentives among employers for not participating in these plans is decreasing.
The three most popular incentive-based health improvement programs for 2015 are biometric screenings (72% of employers plan to offer this program), health risk assessments (70%), and physical activity programs (54%). Among the top three, only 6% plan to use disincentives for not taking a health risk assessment, and 5% will use disincentives for not getting a biometric screening (down from 11% and 12%, respectively). No employers plan to use disincentives for not participating in physical activity programs, although 17% of employers continue to attach disincentives for not participating in smoking cessation programs.
…however, many employees are not earning their full amount
Many employees aren’t taking full advantage of these programs and earning all of their incentives. Fewer than half (47%) of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, while 26% earned a partial amount. Together, this translates into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives.
“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.“
“It’s extremely encouraging to see an ever-increasing number of companies embrace corporate wellness programs as a way to promote a healthy workforce,” said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO, National Business Group on Health. “As employers continue to look at ways to improve employee health and increase productivity, we expect to see employers continue to expand and evolve their wellness offerings, and find new and innovative ways to encourage employee participation levels and measure the success of their programs.”
About the National Business Group on Health
The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers' perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members' most important health care problems. The Business Group helps drive today's health agenda while promoting ideas for controlling health care costs, improving patient safety and quality of care and sharing best practices in health benefits management with senior benefits, HR professionals, and medical directors from leading corporations. Business Group members, which include 67 Fortune 100 companies, provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.
About Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting
Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting business helps mid- to large-size employers nationwide assess the effectiveness of their benefits programs. The business provides a comprehensive approach to benefits design, strategy, funding, communications and delivery by looking at clients’ health care and retirement plans before diagnosing business solutions. The group’s specialties include retirement and health care plan consulting, custom data administration, compliance and employee communication. Benefits Consulting has offices in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Raleigh and Dallas.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity’s goal is to make financial expertise broadly accessible and effective in helping people live the lives they want. With assets under administration of $5.2 trillion, including managed assets of $2.1 trillion as of February 28, 2015, we focus on meeting the unique needs of a diverse set of customers: helping over 24 million people investing their own life savings, nearly 20,000 businesses to manage their employee benefit programs, as well as providing nearly 10,000 advisory firms with technology solutions to invest their own clients’ money. Privately held for nearly 70 years, Fidelity employs 41,000 associates who are focused on the long-term success of our customers. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.
 Online survey fielded from December 2014 through January 2015 among clients of National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments. Metrics based on responses from 121 companies.
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