Despite a sputtering economy, employers are investing more in wellness programs, according to a new survey.
Sixty percent of employers have some type of wellness program, an increase of 13 percent from 2010, according to the Willis Health and Productivity Survey 2011. Of the employers with wellness programs, 58 percent plan to expand them.
The most common types of programs are those that encourage employees to exercise, stop smoking or manage their weight.
Employers want to keep employees healthy to improve productivity and decrease health care costs and health insurance premiums.
Forty-three percent of employers said difficulty in determining the influence of wellness programs on health care costs compared to other factors was the biggest barrier to measuring the programs' success. Employers reported insufficient data and a lack of staffing and time also made it hard to gauge effectiveness.
Fifty-one percent of respondents include work/life balance programs as part of their wellness efforts. Of the employers who offer work/life balance options, 81 percent offer flexible work hours.
Willis North America's Human Capital Practice, which conducted the survey, is a unit of Willis Group Holdings, a global insurance broker.