Most companies plan to increase the dollar value of the incentives they offer employees to participate in health-improvement programs this year, according to a new employer survey conducted by Fidelity Investments(R) and the
The survey is the latest in a series of studies Fidelity and the
The survey found that almost three out of four (73 percent) companies used incentives in 2011 to engage employees in health-improvement programs and the average incentive value was
"Incentives have come a long way from a free T shirt and a water bottle," said
More Companies Requiring Participation in Health-Improvement Programs
The survey found that a small but growing number of companies are requiring employees to participate in health-improvement programs in order to be eligible for medical benefits. Last year, 5 percent of companies required their workers to complete biometric testing (e.g. cholesterol screening) or be excluded from coverage. That number is expected to nearly double in 2012 to 9 percent. Likewise, 7 percent of companies required completion of a health-risk assessment last year. This year, 10 percent of companies will require it.
"Employers are increasingly expecting employees to take steps to improve their health, conditioning even access to health benefits on meeting certain requirements," said
Incentives Aside, Funding for Health-Improvement Programs Holds Steady
The survey found that, incentives aside, the average employer spent
While smoking cessation and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are the most prevalent lifestyle-management offerings in the workplace, healthy cafeteria food options are expected to be introduced by 16 percent of employers this year. Currently, 51 percent of companies offer such choices. Among health-risk management programs, 11 percent of companies are planning to introduce health care advocates (who help employees find medical specialists and navigate the health care system). Currently, 46 percent of companies have advocates. Condition-management programs are expected to remain unchanged from 2011, with companies investing the most in managing conditions related to diabetes (http://www.textsrv.com/click?v=UEg6MTY4MzA6MTIwODpkaWFiZXRlczplNjU4OTBiZDJhNmRiMTkzZDYzZDliODQ2NDM0ZGQ0NDp6LTEwOTctMTU0NTI6d3d3LmJ1c2luZXNzZ3JvdXBoZWFsdGgub3Jn) and asthma.
Fidelity and the
The majority (76 percent) of companies surveyed reported they do not know the return on their investment in health-improvement programs. To help employers maximize the impact and effectiveness of their offerings, Fidelity and the
1.Secure commitment from senior management
Employees are more likely to engage when there is encouragement from senior executives.
2. Align programs with the health risks and challenges of the workforce
Determine what the pressing health issues are (e.g. high blood pressure) and offer solutions. Don't offer diabetes management services if that illness is not a significant health risk for most workers.
3. Set realistic goals and measure results
Define what the desired behavior is (e.g., weight loss) and track it.
4. Offer incentives that appeal to the workforce
Collect feedback from employees on what is appealing and discontinue incentives that aren't working.
5. Manage vendors by establishing performance requirements
Employers should consolidate employee data collected from multiple vendors and measure the results. Vendors should be held accountable if the results fall short of objectives.
Data for the survey was collected online between
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments is one of the world's largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of
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|Source:||Targeted News Service|