Organizations Identify Employees’ Health Habits as Top Cost
Challenge: Willis Survey
Worksite Wellness Programs Resulting in Measurable Improvements
Willis Health and Productivity Survey Offers Snapshot of Today’s
Employer-Sponsored Health and Wellness Programs
NEW YORK, April 3, 2014 – To combat rising health care costs, organizations are turning to
targeted strategies and intervention programs that directly influence employees’ individual
behaviors and health habits, according to the Willis Health and Productivity Survey by Willis
North America’s Human Capital Practice, a unit of Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE: WSH), the
global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker.
In addition, despite recent skepticism reported regarding return on investment from wellness
programs - worksite initiatives that promote a healthy lifestyle -survey results revealed that
nearly half (49%) of employers with wellness programs reported a measurable improvement in
the firm’s medical costs or an improved risk profile among its workforce.
According to the survey 61% of employer respondents identified employees’ health habits as
the number one challenge in controlling health care costs, beating out the cost of compliance
with health care reform and the more traditional measures, such as catastrophic cases,
specialty pharmacy benefits, prevention and the use of high cost medical technologies. Notably,
78% of employers with wellness programs said that they were using some sort of incentive to
drive participation in employer-sponsored programs.
According to the survey 68% of respondents currently offer some type of employer-sponsored
wellness program, an increase of 9% from 2013. Behavioral change and lifestyle issues, such
as physical activity and nutrition continue to be the leading topics organizations are addressing
through their wellness program.
The Willis Health and Productivity Survey, published today, tracks employers’ strategies in
delivering employer-sponsored health plans, including wellness programs. The survey
represents the findings of 900 participants ranging from fewer than 100 to more than 10,000
Key findings of the survey include:
- 61% identified employees’ health habits as the number one challenge in controlling
health care costs. High catastrophic cases (47%) and the cost of compliance due to
health care reform (34%) ranked among the top three.
- 78% of organizations with a wellness program said they used some sort of incentive to
drive participation. The most common incentive driving employee’s completion of a
health assessment is a premium contribution to the medical plan to help lower employee
- Providing employees with tools and information in order to become better consumers
(64%) is the number one strategy organizations say that they are using to address rising
health care costs.
- 49% of those with a wellness program reported a measurable improvement in either
medical costs or risks.
- The majority of organizations (54%) are implementing a high deductible health plan in an
effort to address rising health care costs.
- 93% believe that healthier employees are more productive, yet very few are measuring
the impact on productivity of employees’ absenteeism (22%), Family Medical Leave
(19%) and presenteeism (7%).
Commenting on the results, Dr. Ronald S. Leopold, Willis Practice Leader in Health Outcomes
said, “The results of this survey point to a fundamental shift in employee health benefits and
strategies. These results suggest that the shift of costs and risks to employees is on the rise, but
so is a recognition that employers benefit from helping employees and their families make better
decisions about their health.”
“The Willis Survey results suggest that employer organizations should focus on programs and
benefit design that influences and motivates positive health behaviors,” he added.
The survey was conducted between November 1, 2013 and November 22, 2013.
A full copy of the recent report can be downloaded here: http://www.willis.com/What_We_Think/ .
Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker.
With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000
employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation
and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our
experts rank among the world’s leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation
strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at
our Website, www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on
breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its
local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.