Fewer employers are tracking returns on the financial investments they've made in workplace wellness programs, even as the programs become more popular among companies and their employees, according to new research by the Society for Human Resource Management.
A mere 20% of employers polled in SHRM's 2013 “State of Employee Benefits in the Workplace” survey said they've analyzed their wellness program's overall return on investment, down from 23% of employers polled in 2012. Only 27% of employers polled said they were tracking health care cost savings generated by their wellness programs, a slight decrease from the 28% of employers that had done so in 2012.
However, the minority of employers that are keeping tabs on their wellness programs' financial performance appeared to have more confidence in some of those measurements in 2013 than they did a year ago. Ninety-four percent of those employers said their 2013 ROI analyses were at least somewhat effective, up from 84% in 2012.
The percentage employers that said their cost-savings analyses were somewhat or very effective decreased slightly in 2013, to 88% from 89% in 2012.
Meanwhile, both the percentage of employers offering wellness programs to their employees and the number of employees utilizing those programs increased in 2013, according to SHRM's study. Seventy-two percent of employers offered some type of wellness program, resource or service to their workers and 56% said employee participation in their wellness offerings grew this year, up from 70% and 54% in 2012, respectively.
Employers' perceptions improving
Despite the low percentages of employers collecting statistical evidence of their wellness programs' financial impacts, roughly 37% of all employers offering wellness programs in 2013 said they have been at least somewhat effective at reducing health care costs, compared with 32% in 2012.
Additionally, 60% of employers said their wellness programs were somewhat or very effective at improving employees' physical health, compared with 54% in the previous year's study.