Employees and employers both question wellness plans

New survey suggests much more work is needed to deliver the goods when it comes to wellness plans.

Employees and employers both question wellness plans
By Will Ashworth

New survey from leading healthcare company suggests a lot of work is needed to deliver the goods when it comes to wellness plans.

“The benefits of good health go beyond reducing costs," says Jon Fairest, President & CEO, Sanofi Canada. "It is necessary to make these links so they can offer effective and sustainable programs. We know that healthy, happy individuals are more satisfied in their personal lives and more productive in the workplace. It just makes good business sense."

While the empirical data laid out in The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey suggests a focus on wellness by employers and employees is an important part of creating a healthy work environment, it seems that neither group is entirely happy with what’s currently being delivered by insurance companies and other benefit plan providers.

For example, the survey of 1,500 plan members and 500 plan sponsors found that 72 per cent want better evaluation and reporting of the return on investment of their health and wellness programs.

Approximately 45 per cent of employers surveyed provide some kind of health and fitness program for their employees. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, only 34 per cent of employees where programs are offered actually take advantage of them; worse still, only 30 per cent of those with poor health take advantage of these benefits and 39 per cent do not participate at all.

According to the survey the level of take-up of for health and fitness programs by employees has changed little over the last three years suggesting a disconnect exists between what employees are looking for from wellness offerings and what insurance carriers and other benefit plan providers currently make available.

Insurance carriers’ desire for better ROI data and analytics stems from this disconnect and until the industry is able to better evaluate wellness plans in terms of meeting the needs of plan sponsors and plan members, it’s doubtful to change.

"We can see a desired shift toward supporting employees more on health and wellness, but until the components are better defined it's hard to move beyond the focus of traditional plan design,” noted Ben Harrison, director of group strategic relationships at Great-West Life. “We need to identify the obstacles before we can overcome them, and what feeds into this is deeper data analytics.”