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August 06, 2009
Study: Wellness Programs Are Truly Paying Off
A new study reveals that a large majority of organizations that offer programs to keep employees healthy are getting a better than 1:1 return on their investment.

According to the study, by Health2 Resources, employers are getting better managing the ROI of their health and wellness programs. In 2007, just 14 percent of companies successfully measured ROI, but in 2009, 73 percent of companies did so. Of those who measured, 83 percent reported that their programs had a return of better than $1 for every dollar spent.

The study tracked how much employers paid in incentives, what activities they incentivize and how ROI is measured. Among the study’s other findings as described by Health2 were:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of companies offering health/wellness programs offer incentives
  • The average incentive increased from $204 in 2008 to $329 in 2009
  • The most often used incentive is premium reductions, followed by merchandise/tokens and gift cards
  • Two out of three employers offer health risk assessments and three out of four offer incentives to take it
  • Smoking cessation programs are the most popular health/wellness programs (offered by 53% of respondents), followed by weight management and physical activity programs
  • Diabetes programs are the most popular disease management program (offered by 92% of respondents)

“Employers are becoming more sophisticated about measuring the return on investment from wellness and disease management programs, and today's economic outlook dictates that these programs bring a positive ROI,” Sean Sullivan, president and CEO of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, said in a press release announcing the survey results. “No other kind of health management program has been given the same scrutiny as health and productivity management in measuring its effectiveness in reducing total health-related costs, including sick days, disability claims and impaired performance at work. Employees are too valuable a human capital investment for companies to take their health and productivity for granted.”

The survey was conducted among 372 small, medium and large U.S. companies. Health2 Resources ( noted that many more small and mid-size employers were included in this year’s (the 3rd annual) study, “revealing the extent of expansion of these programs beyond large companies.”

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