Employee Participation in Wellness Programs and Flexible Work Arrangements on Rise, SHRM Survey Finds

Wellness programs effective in improving employee health and reducing health care costs

Jan 22, 2015
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ALEXANDRIA, Va., — Wellness programs and flexible work arrangements are two of the most popular employee benefits offered by organizations, according to the results of the Strategic Benefits survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

About three-quarters (76 percent) of organizations offered some type of wellness program to employees in 2014, an increase from 70 percent in 2012. Also in 2014, about one-half (52 percent) of organizations provided employees with the option to use flexible work arrangements, such as teleworking.

“More and more employers are leveraging wellness programs and flexible work arrangements as part of the total rewards package that they offer employees,” said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM. “Offering wellness programs and flexible work arrangements can be an effective way to recruit and retain talented employees.”

Additionally, employee participation in these programs is increasing. However, employee participation in flexible work arrangements is progressing at a slower rate than wellness programs.

More than one-half (53 percent) of organizations indicated employee participation in wellness programs increased last year, whereas just under one-third (31 percent) reported increased employee participation in flexible work arrangements.

Although about one-half of organizations provided employees with the option to use flexible work arrangements, only one-third (33 percent) reported that the majority of their employees were actually allowed to use them.

“It is important to understand the obstacles that may be impacting employee participation rates in flexible work arrangements,” said Esen. “There needs to be support from management and leadership in order for more employees to participate in flexible work arrangements.”

The survey also looked at the effectiveness of wellness programs:

  • Health care costs: Over two-thirds (72 percent) of organizations found that wellness programs were somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs in 2014.
  • Employee health: About three-quarters (78 percent) of organizations rated their wellness programs as being somewhat or very effective in improving the physical health of employees.
  • Wellness incentives: About two-thirds (67 percent) of organizations offered wellness incentives or rewards for participating in wellness programs. The majority of organizations (85 percent) indicated that wellness incentives were somewhat or very effective in increasing employee participation in wellness programs.

SHRM surveyed 380 respondents from a randomly selected sample of its members throughout the United States. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.

The survey findings are part of a six-part series. Results on health care were also released today.

The survey results are available online at: http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Pages/2014-SHRM-Strategic-Benefits-Survey.aspx

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Laura Ambrosio of SHRM Public Affairs at 703-535-6273 and Laura.Ambrosio@shrm.org or Kate Kennedy at 703-535-6260 and Kate.Kennedy@shrm.org.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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