March 1, 2010

Survey Shows Uphill Battle in Improving Employee Health

The 15th Annual National Business Group on Health/Towers Watson Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care reveals just how difficult it is to change employee behavior when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices and taking responsibility for their own health.  The survey, conducted from November, 2009 through January, 2010 will be available in a full report later this month, however, some preliminary findings have been released by the NBGH just a few days ago.

For vendors of health assessment, risk management, incentive programs, the employers responded with significant disappointment in the programs available:  67% of the companies felt that programs designed to help employees make better use of health care services fell short of expectations; 66% identified programs designed by vendors to change employee behavior in making healthy lifestyle decisons as “not at all or only slightly effective.”   Vendors, this sounds like a call to action for more innovative and effective programs for employers. 

The pressure is on, due to the economic environment in which we all find ourselves, for employers to continue to ratchet down costs and improve employee health.  The survey showed that 67% of employers saw employee health habits as a top challenge in maintaining affordable benefit costs.   Interestingly, the data showed that among the large employers surveyed, 26% offered onsite health services.

The battle to control costs and improve employee health continues and is a critical issue that employers are facing.    While this can be seen as a problem, it can also be seen as an opportunity for those employers and vendors who can think outside the box and come up with new ways to increase employee commitment and, to use the latest buzz word in HR, “engagement.”

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Filed Under: Research

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