Wellness Is Fairly Popular—But Not Personalized Enough

Wellness programs have become a popular way for employers to encourage engagement and productivity among employees, but they are still evolving. Personalization, providing rewards, and understanding what employees want are key to maximizing value in employer-sponsored health and wellness programs.

This is according to results from a new national survey released by Welltok, Inc., developer of the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), a nonprofit organization that leads initiatives to address the most relevant healthcare issues facing employers today.

The survey, Whispers from the Water Cooler: A 2016 survey on what motivates employees to improve their health and well-being, explores how employees view an employer’s involvement in programs that impact physical and emotional health, social connectedness, and financial security. The survey also examined the impact of rewards, uncovered participation motivators, and exposed where opinions differ by gender, income, and age.

“The majority of companies providing health and well-being programs can maximize the value of what they are offering, regardless of their current levels of employee participation,” said Michelle Snyder—chief marketing officer for Welltok—in a press release. “Clearly, not every group is motivated by the same drivers and there is room for all to grow. The findings confirm that employers must connect individuals with the right topics and content, as well as create the right support networks if they want to generate the highest possible return on investment.”

Based on the responses of over 1,000 full-time employees working for large companies, the results show that a vast majority perceive employer-sponsored programs as having a positive impact. Other notable survey findings include:

  • Satisfaction with health and wellness programs is high, but more personalization is needed. Most participants (81%) saw a positive impact on their physical well-being, and more than 60% agreed or strongly agreed that including family in such programs would likely increase their participation.
    • For those who did not participate, 37% did not find them personally relevant, and 20% didn’t know they were available, a strong indication that greater personalization and awareness is needed to drive employee engagement
  • Rewards work for all employees, regardless of income and age. The majority (91%) would engage in healthier behaviors if they were rewarded, including those who had an income of at least $200,000 (78%). Nearly all employees under the age of 35 agreed (98%), but those over the age of 55 weren’t quite as motivated by rewards (85%).
  • Colleagues and direct managers are top motivators. 86% ranked their colleagues as one of their top motivators to improving their overall health and well-being at work, followed closely by their direct manager (57%).
    • Perceptions varied by age, however. Millennials were partial to their direct manager’s influence (64%) but less so to Human Resources (HR) (24%), whereas their 55-or-older counterparts were less motivated by direct managers (51%) and more influenced by HR (40%).


In tomorrow’s Advisor, we will take a look at more results from the study.