The C-Suite wants a more engaged, healthier workforce with less turnover, and company leaders are willing to spend more to achieve those aims. And although the line managers who have to make all this happen aren’t quite as sanguine about these three top company goals, they’re not far behind in supporting their bosses’ objectives.
These are some of the high end results of an extensive survey by Virgin Pulse, specialist in employee health and engagement. Its report, State of the Industry: Engagement & Wellness in 2015, crunched data from 1,395 HR management professionals from companies in various industries and of various sizes. Responses for many questions were divided into three categories: overall company responses; executive responses; manager responses.
“Organizations will increase their employee engagement and wellness program budgets and broaden program scope with an eye on increasing engagement, participation and retention in 2015,” the report said. “Many organizations will look to go beyond physical wellness to improve the emotional, social and financial well-being of their employees.”
When asked to cite their top 2015 priorities, the voting was clear and provided a window into the current competitive environment in which companies are operating.
The No. 1 priority: increasing employee engagement. Nearly 90 percent of executives chose this as their top objective for 2015, with 86 percent of all respondents choosing it. Managers came in at 84 percent, perhaps because the success of their jobs depends both on engaged workers and good workers.
The talent quest wasn’t far behind engagement in anyone’s mind; 88 percent of executives said it was their No. 2 choice, and the “overall” vote came in at 85 percent. So in effective engagement and talent search were tied for No. 1. Managers voted 85 percent in favor of this one as priority No. 2.
The third priority — improving employee health and well-being — also scored well, with 83 percent of executives citing it as their third priority, and three-quarters of managers and overall checking the box.
Respondents showed a strong inclination to either increase funding for engagement and wellness programs, or to maintain the 2014 budget. Very few said they would cut those budgets. In addition, the data indicated companies are looking more closely at measuring engagement. The most popular method, cited by 54 percent, was via standardized annual surveys.
Many also use annual review processes, retention/attrition data and productivity data to try to gage that tricky engagement factor. However, about a quarter of those in the survey don’t measure engagement or wellness ROI at all.
Virgin Pulse reported the following as having the lowest priorities for the coming year:
- Moving the workforce to a private health exchange, cited by nearly 7 of 10 from every respondent group as their lowest priority;
- Advancing programs with technology, around 17 percent for all three;
- Demonstrating the impact of HR on productivity improvement, about 15 percent;
- Lowering the admin burden, cited by about 15 percent.
The wide-ranging study offered industry-by-industry segmentation of the data, information about wellness/engagement incentives, and data on how organizations manage their engagement and wellness initiatives.
“One of the major takeaways from the report was the strong link between employee well-being and engagement,” said Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce. “Especially at the executive level, respondents see that employees’ physical and mental well-being are directly affected by both employee engagement and wellness programs.”