HR Management & Compliance

2016 Health and Wellness Survey Results

Health and Wellness Survey

The HR Daily Advisor research team conducted the 2016 Health and Wellness Survey in April 2016. Health and wellness programs are widely used and diverse in nature. We asked participants everything from their perceptions on health and wellness programs to what steps they take to get employees involved, to what they think works when it comes to deploying health and wellness programs.

Highlights of the Health and Wellness Survey:

  • The survey shows that the majority of respondents (58.9%) have a wellness program at their organization.
  • Almost everyone (93.5%) indicated that the purpose of their wellness program was to “Improve employee health.” The second most common concern was “Reducing healthcare costs” (80.5%).
  • The majority (66.5%) of survey takers indicated that they felt that nutrition education was the most effective wellness initiative for following a diet or managing weight.
  • Stress management was indicated as the most popular specific disease/problem wellness initiative with 52.3% saying so.
  • Most respondents (76.1%) indicated that they do offer incentives based on participation in a wellness initiative.
  • Just under 60% of survey takers indicated that they thought their organization’s wellness program would grow in the future.

The following are the results of our 2016 Health and Wellness Survey. Be mindful of the axes (the X axis for bar graphs and the Y axis for column graphs)—the chart does not necessarily top out at 100%. Data are expressed as percentages rounded off to the nearest one-tenth of a percent.

Health and Wellness Programs

The majority (58.9%) of survey participants indicated that their organization does have a wellness program.

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The Purpose of Your Program

When survey takers were asked what the purpose of their wellness program was, the overwhelming majority (93.5%) answered “Improve employee health.” The second most common answer (80.5%) was “Reduce healthcare costs.”  Other common responses included “Increase employee engagement” (67.8%), “Improve employee attitude toward company” (56.2%), and “Improve productivity” (55.9%).

What is the purpose of the wellness program? (Please check all that apply.)
Answer Options Response Percent
Improve employee health 93.5%
Reduce healthcare costs 80.5%
Increase employee engagement 67.8%
Improve employee attitude toward company 56.2%
Improve productivity 55.9%
Increase retention 43.0%
Enhance recruiting 30.3%
Has a great ROI 24.3%
Other   3.0%

Specific Disease/Problem Initiatives

When asked which specific disease/problem wellness initiatives that survey participants offer, the majority answered “smoking cessation” (73.3%). Other popular answers included “stress management” (65.5%), “heart health” (63.4%), and “obesity” (62.1%). “Other” was chosen by 13.7% of survey takers, and those answers included:

  • “Flu shots.”
  • “Health and aging, environmental impact on health.”
  • “Financial wellness.”
  • “Anger management.”
  • “Healthy pregnancy.”

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Diet and/or Weight Management Initiatives

When asked which diet and/or weight management wellness initiatives survey takers’ companies offer, the number one response by far was “nutrition education” (80.5%). Trailing far behind was “healthy foods in cafeteria” (43.0%). Approximately 17% of respondents answered “Other” and here are some of those responses:

  • “Weight loss challenge.”
  • “Health coach.”
  • “Weight Watchers® online.”
  • “Fitness club reimbursement.”
  • “Time off for exercise.”
  • “One on one phone counseling.”
  • “Wellness luncheon to show healthy options.”

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Exercise Initiatives

The majority of survey takers (61.1%) answered that they offer “discount/free gym memberships” as an exercise wellness initiative. Other common responses were “Physical activity/exercise” (54.6%), and “Tracking of physical activity (e.g., Fitbit)” (53.7%). Approximately 14% of respondents answered “Other” and here are some of those responses:

  • “Dance classes.”
  • “Sponsor employees in sporting and exercise events.”
  • “Organized on-site yoga, functional movement, and APEX classes.”
  • “Charity walks/runs.”

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Other Wellness Initiatives

The majority of survey respondents (71.5%) indicated that they offer “health assessment” as an additional wellness initiative. Other popular responses included “Biometric scanning (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) (70.6%), On-site immunization (62.8%), and “Individual challenges (e.g., 10,000 steps a day) (55.6%). Only 7.5% answered “Other.” Those responses included:

  • “Yoga.”
  • “Flu shot voucher.”
  • “Financial wellness programs.”
  • “On-site personal trainer.”
  • “Food for Life classes.”
  • “Health/wellness bulletin boards with monthly topics and local activities.”
Which of these other wellness initiatives do you offer? (Please check all that apply.)
Answer Options Response Percent
Health assessment 71.5%
Biometric screening (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) 70.6%
On-site immunizations 62.8%
Individual challenges (e.g., 10,000 steps a day) 55.6%
Visiting speakers on health/wellness topics 53.8%
Health/Wellness newsletter 48.6%
Telephonic health coaching 43.5%
Health fair 42.0%
Group activities, e.g., walk at lunchtime 41.7%
Group/department challenges (e.g., group total steps a day) 38.1%
In-person health coaching 22.5%
Other  7.5%

Effective Specific Disease/Problem Initiatives

When asked which specific disease/problem wellness initiatives are most effective at improving their employees’ health, the primary answer was “Obesity” (47.3%). Other common responses included “Smoking cessation” (47.3%), “Stress management” (44.8%), and “Heart health” (40.9%). Just under 11% of survey respondents answered “Other.” The most common of these responses was “unknown.” Other responses included:

  • “Wellness choice reimbursement.”
  • “Encouraging daily walks.”
  • “Educational campaigns.”
  • “Human vitality program.”

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Effective Diet and/or Weight Management Initiatives

When asked which diet and/or weight management wellness initiatives are the most effective at improving employees’ wellness, the majority of survey respondents (66.5%) answered “Nutrition education.” The second most common answer, which trailed behind the first by over 30 points, was “Healthy foods in cafeteria” (32.4%). Approximately 15% answered “Other.” The most common response was “unknown.” Here are some of the other responses:

  • “Weight loss challenge.”
  • “Jazzercise.”
  • “Group activities.”
  • “Health coaching.”
  • “One-on-one counseling and support,”
  • “Reimbursement for diet program.”

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Effective Exercise Initiatives

Survey takers were asked which exercise wellness initiatives are the most effective at improving their employees’ wellness. The top three responses were “Tracking of physical activity (e.g., Fitbit)” (50.0%), “Physical activity/exercise” (49.7%), and “Discount/free gym memberships” (44.1%). As with other similar questions, the most common answer by those who indicated “Other” (8.7%) was “unknown.” Some of the other responses included:

  • “Health challenges.”
  • “None, just penalty for not having a physical.”
  • “Strength training and yoga.”
  • “The telephonic and online coaching with our wellness vendor.”

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Other Effective Wellness Initiatives

When asked what other kinds of wellness initiatives were most effective at improving employees’ wellness, the most common response (63.3%) was “Biometric screening (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol)” (63.3%).  Other common responses included “Health assessment” (53.4%), “On-site immunizations” (39.5%), and “Individual challenges (e.g., 10,000 steps a day)” (32.7%). Only 8.2% answered “Other,” and here are some of those responses:

  • “Yoga.”
  • “Financial wellness.”
  • “Charitable physically active events.”
  • “Health plan requirements to avoid surcharges.”
  • “Annual physical.”
  • “Food for Life classes are well attended and very popular.”
Which of these other wellness initiatives are most effective at improving your employees’ wellness? (Please check all that apply.)
Answer Options Response Percent
Biometric screening (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) 63.3%
Health Assessment 53.4%
On-site immunizations 39.5%
Individual challenges (e.g., 10,000 steps a day) 32.7%
Visiting speakers on health/wellness topics 29.3%
Group/department challenges (e.g., group total steps a day) 25.5%
Group activities, e.g., walk at lunchtime 23.8%
Health fair 20.1%
In-person health coaching 18.4%
Health/Wellness newsletter 18.0%
Telephonic health coaching 16.3%
Other   8.2%

Popular Specific Disease/Problem Initiatives

Survey takers were asked which specific disease/problem wellness initiatives are the most popular with employees. The majority (52.3%) answered “Stress management.” Other top responses included “Obesity” (44.6%), “Heart health” (35.3%), and “Smoking cessation” (28.3%). Here are some of the responses by the 12.0% who answered “Other”:

  • “General information about diet and exercise.”
  • “Daily yoga and stretch.”
  • “Naturally slim weight control program.”
  • “Monthly healthy foods newsletter.”
  • “Group challenges.”
  • “Anything with a free prize.”

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Popular Diet and/or Weight Management Initiatives

When asked which diet and/or weight management wellness initiatives are most popular with employees, the majority (57.4%) answered “Nutrition education.” Other responses, all of which trail by at least 25 points, included “Healthy foods in cafeteria” (29.1%) and “Diet programs” (26.4%). Here are some of the responses given by the 14.3% who answered “Other”:

  • “Self-motivation.”
  • “Serving healthy foods during events.”
  • “Reminders on wellness day, providing fresh fruit as a healthy alternative.”
  • “Individual and group challenges and jazzercise.”
  • “Program does not have high utilization.”
  • “One on one with nurse practitioner.”
  • “Healthy snacks in vending machines.”
  • “Employees bring their own foods from home to eat.”

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Popular Exercise Initiatives

When survey respondents were asked which exercise wellness initiatives are the most popular with employees, the number one response (47.1%) was “Tracking of physical activity (e.g., Fitbit). Other popular responses included “Physical activity/exercise” (40.3%), “Discount/free gym memberships” (41.0%), and “On-site facilities” (25.9%). Only 7.6% answered “Other,” and here are some of those responses:

  • “Fun runs/walks.”
  • “Company walks on breaks and at lunch. Bike rides at lunch.”
  • “Yoga.”
  • “Webinars and onsite demonstrations.”

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Other Popular Wellness Initiatives

Survey respondents were asked which other wellness initiatives were popular with employees. The top three responses were “Biometric screening (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol)” (50.3%), On-site immunizations” (39.5%), and “Health assessment” (39.5%). There were only a few other responses. One of the most telling was “None were popular. We had to bribe them with paid time off to participate in health fairs in order to obtain biometric screening baselines.”

Which of these other wellness initiatives are the most popular with employees? (Please check all that apply.)
Answer Options Response Percent
Biometric screening (e.g., weight, blood pressure, cholesterol) 50.3%
On-site immunizations 39.5%
Health assessment 38.1%
Visiting speakers on health/wellness topics 29.7%
Individual challenges (e.g., 10,000 steps a day) 26.9%
Group/department challenges (e.g., group total steps a day) 25.5%
Group activities, e.g., walk at lunchtime 23.4%
Health fair 23.1%
Health/Wellness newsletter 16.4%
In person health coaching 16.1%
Telephonic health coaching   7.7%
Other   7.0%

Wellness Programs and Spouses

When respondents were asked if their wellness initiatives involved employees’ spouses, 44.9% answered “Yes.”

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Children and Wellness Programs

Only 22.3% of survey takers answered that their wellness initiatives involved employees’ children.

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Participation Incentives

The majority of survey takers (76.1%) answered that they offer incentives that are based on participation in a wellness initiative.

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Specific Incentives for Participation

We asked survey respondents which incentives are offered to those who participate. The most common two responses were “Cash or gift cards under $100” (35.7%) and “Cash or gift cards $100 or more” (26.9%). Other popular responses were “Merchandise” (26.4%), “Reduced premium for health care less than 10%” (22.5%), and “Reduced premium for health care 10% or greater” (22.0%). Approximately 16% of survey respondents answered “Other.” Here are some of those other responses:

  • “Online cash points for gift purposes.”
  • “Earning PTO or a discount on employee responsibility of insurance premium.”
  • “Earning a personal day.”
  • “Surcharge for smokers.”
  • “Free fitbits.”
  • “Tickets for monthly raffle prizes.”
  • “$50 bonus per paycheck for the year for those who complete biometric testing.”
What incentives are offered for those who participate? (Please check all that apply.)
Answer Options Response Percent
Cash or gift card under $100 35.7%
Cash or gift card $100 or more 26.9%
Merchandise 26.4%
Reduced premium for health care less than 10% 22.5%
Reduced premium for health care 10% or greater 22.0%
Tickets to entertainment 10.1%
Higher HSA or HRA contribution from employer   9.3%
Reduced deductible   3.5%
Better health plan   2.6%
Travel   1.8%
Other 16.3%

Participation Disincentives

Only 17.7% of survey takers said their company imposes disincentives that are based on nonparticipation in a wellness initiative.

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Specific Disincentives for Participation

We asked the 17% of respondents who answered they do establish disincentives for nonparticipation in wellness initiatives which kinds of disincentives they impose. Precisely 75.0% of respondents answered “Premium increase.” Approximately 21% of respondents answered “Other.” One of the other answers was a somewhat ominous “Consequence management.” Here are some of those other responses:

  • “Surcharge assessed.”
  • “Less employer HAS contribution.”
  • “You don’t receive the bonus.”
  • “We no longer provide coverage for smokers.”

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Tomorrow, more results from this survey.