SHRM: Employers Boost Employee Wellness Benefits
By Alex Palmer
August 9, 2012
This year, a growing number of employers are providingbenefits to encourage their workers to improve their health, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The “SHRM 2012 Employee Benefits Research Report,” released at the end of July at SHRM’s 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta, found that the number of employers offering health and lifestyle coaching jumped to 45 percent in 2012, up from 33 percent in 2008. Additionally, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) now offer rewards to their employees for completing a health and wellness program, up from 23 percent in 2008.
Overall, 77 percent of respondents offered some kind of wellness resources and information, while 61 percent provided a wellness program. These range from CPR/first aid training (51 percent) to on-site blood pressure machines (20 percent) to massage therapy services for employees at the office (9 percent).
“Employers recognize that providing employees with the opportunity to improve their health can increase morale, confidence and productivity,” says Mark J. Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM, in a statement. “Organizations continue to look for ways to manage costs as the economy slowly improves. Benefits that encourage healthier behavior are a cost effective way to keep up employee morale, while healthier employees also help decrease healthcare costs to employers and employees.”
The survey, which was based on the responses of 550 randomly selected human resources professionals, also found that the economy continues to have an impact on benefit offerings. A full 73 percent of respondents reported that the economic downturn negatively impacted benefit offerings (11 percent to a large extent and 62 percent to some extent), though this is slightly less than the 77 percent who said the same last year.
“By shifting primary responsibility in controlling certain healthcare and financial benefits, employers are recognizing a shift in workplace culture,” says Schmit. “The new plans allow employees have more control over how they save for retirement and manage their health, while reducing costs for employers. These plans are also more flexible and, thus more attractive, to employees who will likely not spend an entire career with one organization.”
The complete “SHRM 2012 Employee Benefits Research Report” can be viewed here
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