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Many wellness programs improve worker health, lower costs

Many wellness programs improve worker health, lower costs

More employers believe their workplace wellness programs have had a positive effect on their employees' health and reduced health care costs, but fewer are calculating their programs' total return on investment, according to new survey data.

Seventy-eight percent of employers polled last year by the Alexandria, Virginia-based Society for Human Resource Management reported that their organization's wellness initiatives have been at least somewhat effective at improving their employees' overall physical health, compared with 76% of employers polled in the previous two years, according to the results of SHRM's 2014 Strategic Benefits survey.

Additionally, 72% of employers surveyed said their organization's wellness program has been somewhat or very effective at reducing health care costs, up from 71% in 2013 and 68% in 2012.

Accordingly, 56% employers surveyed said they planned to maintain their investment levels in wellness programming in 2015, while 41% of employers indicating that their wellness budgets would increase this year.

However, the survey results also revealed a continuing decline in the percentage of employers attempting to determine their company wellness program's full financial return on those investments.

Only 18% of employers polled in 2014 said they've conducted an ROI analysis on their wellness program, compared with 20% in 2013 and 23% in 2012.

Approximately 30% of employers reported that they've analyzed the total cost savings generated through their wellness program in 2014, up from 27% in 2013.

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