New IRF Study Reflects the Benefits of Health and Wellness Programs

by: Nichole Gunn October 24, 2011

Business related healthcare costs have been rising significantly on a yearly basis, causing employers to find innovative strategies to help reduce those cost, while enhancing productivity. One such strategy that is becoming more and more popular is corporate health and wellness programs.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of health and wellness strategies that incorporate incentive programs is a new study conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). The study results clearly links employee incentive initiatives and health and wellness programs to a more efficient and productive workplace, with a happier and healthier workforce.

The IRF funds and promotes research to boost the awareness of incentive programs, along with their implementation, for businesses around the world. The study discovered that employee incentives enhance the effectiveness of corporate wellness programs.

As an example, wellness programs that incorporate appropriate smoking cessation incentives to reduce related health insurance premiums will realize benefits for both the employees and the company: employees will be healthier, and the employers’ health related costs will decrease, while productivity increases.

IRF’s chief research officer Rodger Stotz explained, “The U.S. is spending about $2.5 trillion per year on health care.” He added that up to 75 percent of that cost goes to preventable illnesses. This translates to possible company savings of up to $1.9 trillion a year, as a result of preventative health care strategies. Stotz continued, “And this doesn’t even consider productivity gains or worker quality of life improvements.”

Adding proof to these statistics, it is estimated that Johnson & Johnson saves close to $10 million yearly as a result of its corporate health and wellness program. IRS president Melissa Van Dyke noted that effective wellness programs have the potential of generating a savings-to-cost ratio of over $3 in savings to $1 invested.

Stotz went on to say, “Less than one in five employees will participate in wellness programs that do not offer rewards.” If incentives are offered, the participation rate increases to four in five. “Clearly all businesses should consider this when looking at their wellness efforts.”

Other benefits related to corporate health and wellness programs include talent retention, which helps to reduce high turnover rates, according to Benefits Canada. Adopting a program ‘right’ for your company will help garner employees who are highly motivated and productive, and who are more likely to ‘stay put.’

Each year, the growing evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of well designed and properly implemented corporate health and wellness programs. Both small and big businesses are noting success with these programs that offer substantial benefits for all involved.