by Leo Jakobson | March 26, 2015

Overall, safety and wellness programs continue to grow in popularity as big companies across the country continue to invest in maintaining a happier and healthier workforce.

The number of companies with the largest wellness and safety programs -- those with budgets of at least $100,000 and rising to $1,000,000 or more -- grew from 20.1 percent in 2014 to 28.9 percent in 2015. Those increasing their budgets grew 10 percent, to 56.2 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. Virtually all of that change came from companies that had held their budgets flat in 2014, as the number of companies that cut budgets dropped from just 3.6 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent this year.

Corporate wellness programs, in particular, continue to grow more popular. While the number of respondents whose companies have wellness programs remains below half, it rose to 46.4 percent in 2015, compared to 39.5 percent in 2014. Two-thirds of respondents rate their programs to be either "very effective" or "extremely effective," but the number of respondents who say their programs measure results dropped from 80.6 percent in 2014 to 67.5 percent in 2015.

Of those who do measure results, the biggest changes were seen in companies that did so based on participation in health programs designed to help employees lose weight or quit smoking (up 13.2 percent this year), while those programs based on reductions in corporate health insurance spending dropped 10.9 percent.

One interesting point was the substantial growth in the use of group incentive travel awards in wellness and safety programs, as these remain very rare outside of incentive sales programs. The number of wellne ss programs using these awards grew to 9 percent in 2015, compared to 1.7 percent in 2014. On the safety program side, the number of companies incorporating incentive group travel grew to 18.8 percent in 2015, up from 6.1 percent in 2014.