There must have been a fast-talking wellness plan salesman going through the country last year. The number of companies reporting that they offer such plans leapt 11 percent between 2011 and 2013.
At least that's the word from the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report. The study, conducted by Research Now in January, calculated responses from 1,884 benefits decision-makers and 5,299 employees in the U.S. Mixed in among the “tell-me-something-I-already-know” findings were gems like the jump in the number of companies offering wellness plans.
In 2011, the Aflac survey reported that 30 percent of respondents offered some type of wellness option for employees. The latest survey said 44 percent of companies now have one. Further, Aflac said that companies identified as “best companies to work for” are far more likely to offer such wellness options as on-site fitness centers (73 percent), subsidies for an off-site fitness membership (63 percent) and financial incentives to participate in a wellness program (55 percent).
Not surprisingly, the large the company, the greater the likelihood it will have a wellness component to its benefits package. Of companies offering wellness options, 69 percent had 500 or more employees and 20 percent had between 100 and 499 workers.
Companies are truly buying into the advantages of offering wellness programs. Some 61 percent of respondents said they believe wellness programs have a direct and positive impact on profitability. In 2011, just 50 percent held such a belief.
Wellness plans have a strong influence on employee perceptions of their employer, the survey found. Consider the following:
When asked whether they were “extremely or very satisfied with their job,” 53 percent of employees at workplaces without wellness programs said “yes,” while 66 percent of employees who worked for companies with wellness programs said “yes.” Other no wellness plan/wellness plan responses included:
- Extremely or very likely to recommend their workplace to others: 52 percent v. 67 percent.
- Agree that company has a strong reputation as a great place to work: 43 percent v. 59 percent.
- Extremely or very satisfied with their benefits program: 44 percent v. 66 percent.
- Believe employer will help them understand impact of health care reform: 66 percent v. 84 percent.
- Believes their employer takes care of employees: 48 percent v. 67 percent.
The list goes on. The message is clear: Offering employees a wellness program as part of their benefits package pays more dividends that you might imagine.