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Leadership support of wellness plans increases success: Study


Employee health management programs are more successful in reducing health risks and slowing cost increases when senior management is committed to the programs, new research has found.

About two-thirds, or 66%, of employers with strong leadership and cultural support of their employee health management programs reported reduction in health risks, compared with only 26% of those with little or no management support, according to the study conducted by New York-based Mercer Inc. in collaboration with the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization.

Moreover, organizations with strong leadership support and a demonstrable culture of health were 10 times more likely than those with little or no management support to report that their health management programs have had a substantial positive impact on their medical plan costs.

For example, 30% of employers who scored highly on HERO's Employee Health Management Best Practice Scorecard, reported that their health management programs had “a substantial positive impact” on health costs, compared with just 2% of low-scoring employers.

The study also found that employees are more likely to complete a health risk assessment in organizations reporting high levels of management support than in those with little or no leadership and cultural support (59% vs. 41%). In addition, employees are more likely to take advantage of biometric screenings in supportive organizations (53% vs. 38%).

Leadership support is just one of six elements that researchers found contribute to the success of employee health management programs. The other elements are strategic planning, whether the program integrates with the benefits strategy, the kinds of programs that are offered, the types of engagement methods employed, and how the programs are measured and evaluated.

More than 450 employers of all sizes completed the HERO Employee Health Management Best Practice Scorecard, which is available to employers on a complimentary basis. For more information, visit

The benchmark report is available at

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