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Engagement makes employee wellness work


Eighty-seven percent of employees note that wellness programs enhance work culture, a 10 percent increase from 2013, finds a new Virgin Pulse survey on workplace health priorities. The survey, which polled 361 organizations and 3,822 employees, also found 96 percent of employees participate in such programs to improve their health.

However, many employers find it hard to commit to strategies that drive employee engagement, according to an announcement about the survey.

Engagement is key to establishing a successful wellness program. "The links between a high level of engagement and business benefits are clear," Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce said in the survey. "Recent research shows a highly engaged workforce drives profitability, productivity and customer ratings, while reducing shrinkage, turnover and absenteeism."

Despite the importantace of engagement, the survey finds 70 percent of employees report they're disengaged at work.

Merely offering a wellness program isn't enough to boost the health and wellbeing of employees; insurers must work with employers to help educate workers about the existence of the programs and the benefits of participating.

Moreover, since wellness programs can provide long-term benefits for consumers and insurers alike, including reducing hopsital admissions and preventing risk factors for chronic conditions, employers need to take advantage of financial perks under the Affordable Care Act. From those surveyed, only 26.4 percent of employers plan to take advantage of the increase in wellness incentives provided by the ACA. Nearly half plan to not act on wellness incentives, while 13.7 percent were not aware such incentives exist.

Insurers looking to start their own wellness programs can take a note from Humana's playbook. The Louisville, Kentucky-based insurer found employees participating in its wellness program had 56 percent fewer unscheduled absences from work and spent an average of $53 less per month on claims.

To learn more:
- read the full report (.pdf) and announcement

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