2012 National Summary

The States of Wellness is a national survey research project exploring the experiences, attitudes and opinions of human resource professionals regarding worksite wellness. Included in the project is a nationwide online survey of human resource executives and separate regional polls in six states. In addition, the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota conducted 23 focus groups to supplement the research.

The national survey of 406 human resource professionals was conducted June 14-July 13 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). It has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. Both SHRM and Rob Autry of Public Opinion Strategies, a leading national pollster based in Alexandria, Virginia, contributed to the questionnaire and the analysis. It was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Minnesota Department of Health. Regional polls were conducted in Miami-Dade County (Florida), Pima County (Arizona), Wood County (Wisconsin), St. Louis County (Missouri), the State of Minnesota, and the State of Hawaii.

The poll found that nearly nine out of 10 organizations (87 percent) nationally perceive the benefits of worksite wellness, and 74 percent of them said they would look to community-based collaborations of business leaders to learn about issues related to worksite wellness initiatives and to share information if these networks were in place.

Other findings conclude:

Healthy employee behavior is on employers’ radar.

  • Although “costs” continue to top their concerns regarding the health of employees (84 percent), employers perceive other important values of worksite wellness: decreased productivity (73 percent), absenteeism (70 percent), and reduction of workers’ compensation or disability claims (58 percent).
  • They ranked obesity (52 percent), stress/mental health (51 percent), and lack of exercise/fitness (51 percent) as their top three choices in health challenges facing employees.
  • Almost 70 percent believe that larger investments in wellness help curb healthcare costs.
  • Employers overwhelmingly agree that worksite wellness initiatives help workers develop healthier lifestyles (96 percent), increase productivity (84 percent), lower healthcare costs (84 percent), and reduce absenteeism (78 percent).

Many employers are already committed to workplace wellness initiatives.

  • Led by government (83 percent) and publicly owned for-profit companies (75 percent), more than half of American employers (55 percent) say they have already initiated worksite wellness initiatives.
  • Their primary objective is to improve the overall health of employees (92 percent) and reduce employee healthcare costs (85 percent).

Employers want to demonstrate a return on their investment in wellness.

  • While 84 percent of employers place high value on measuring ROI related to wellness, only 42 percent of those with wellness initiatives in place actually do it.

Some employers are wary of worksite wellness activities.

  • Those who have not begun worksite wellness programs are most worried about cost (65 percent), low potential participation (59 percent), and lack of time necessary to implement a wellness initiative (54 percent).

Employers value government involvement in worksite wellness.

  • 85 percent said that state and local government should maintain (38 percent) or increase (47 percent) involvement in worksite wellness.
  • 79 percent said that the Federal government should maintain (40 percent) or increase (39 percent) that involvement.

The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota is a public-private partnership of employers who care about worksite wellness. Its founding members included, among others, Target, Cargill, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the State of Minnesota.