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Major U.S. employers using incentives to promote employer-sponsored health and wellness programs rose from 62% to 71% between 2007 and 2008, according to a report released today. Also included is new data about what programs employers reward, how much they spend and what they expect in return for their investments.
This is the second year the survey was conducted by the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and IncentOne Inc. Responses revealed a wide range in the value of incentives offered for a host of different programs. For instance, incentives for weight management programs ranged from $5 to $500, and for smoking cessation programs from a low of $5 to a high of $600. The average value of incentives per person per year ranged between $100 and $300, with an overall average of $192 per person per year.
“More than three out of four major employers are using health and wellness programs in an effort to rein in costs that continue to soar year after year,” said John Engler, president and CEO of NAM. “But trinkets and t-shirts aren't enough to motivate employees for the long term. Employers are keenly interested in innovative ways to lower costs and enhance productivity. Incentives are proving an effective tool to engage employees and keep them interested in these programs.”
Employers are experimenting with the types of incentives they offer, sometimes offering different incentives and amounts for different types of programs. While last year's results showed a definite skew towards offering premium reductions over other types of incentives, gift cards came out on top in 2008 as the most popular incentive employers offer, with premium discounts and cash incentives following closely behind.
The survey of 225 major U.S. companies employing 7.6 million employees also delved into employer expectation for ROI for health and wellness programs, finding that 83% of those who have measured are seeing program returns of better than break-even. The percentage of employers who have successfully measured ROI for their health and wellness programs almost doubled since last year, but still remains less than 30%.