Fifty-eight percent of employers in California offer wellness programs for their employees as a way to fight preventable and chronic health problems, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's 2012 Employee Benefits Survey.

The survey also finds wellness programs are more often offered by publicly owned, for-profit organizations and government than privately owned, for-profits and nonprofits. Larger employers are more likely to offer wellness programs, as well. 

"Wellness programs have a proven record for reducing health care costs, which are an ever-growing issue in California," says Mark Schmit, SHRM's vice president of research.

Some of the most popular wellness services offered are providing resources and information at 76 percent, giving onsite seasonal flu vaccinations at 54 percent and hosting health fairs at 42 percent. Other wellness efforts include health and lifestyle coaching at 37 percent, health screening at 39 percent and smoking cessation programs at 34 percent.

Considering that obesity and other chronic health issues continue to impact the well-being of employees and an employer's bottom line, more respondents on a national level are offering lower health care premiums for getting an annual health risk assessment and not using tobacco, the survey finds; however, those figure are much lower among Californian respondents. In fact, only 8 percent of Californian respondents provide discounts for smoking cessation as opposed to 20 percent nationally, and 12 percent of Californian respondents offer discounts for getting an annual health assessment in comparison to 21 percent nationally.

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