Research

2015/2016 Staying@Work — United States research findings

Improving workforce health and productivity

April 2016
| United States

U.S. employers continue their unwavering commitment to improving employee health and productivity: 84% say it’s a core component of their organization’s health strategy, and nearly four in five plan to sharpen their focus on building workforce health and well-being in the coming years.

But even more significant than this commitment is the way U.S. employers are redefining workforce health. For many, an emphasis on workplace culture over program design represents a major shift. By 2018, 94% expect to have a workplace culture that supports employees in their pursuit of well-being while holding them accountable for their health. And 91% intend to introduce a formal health and productivity strategy, while more than half plan to customize their programs for various workforce segments.

What’s motivating employers to shift direction on their health and productivity journey? For most, it’s the impact of employee stress (75%), obesity (70%), sedentary lifestyles (61%) and poor nutrition (50%) on increasing health care costs and overall productivity.

Leading workforce issues in the United States

Leading workforce issues in the United States

But addressing those effects means surmounting a number of obstacles, the most worrisome of which is weak employee engagement. U.S. employers have struggled to get workers to participate in employer-sponsored health and well-being programs for more than a decade. Other challenges include the lack of measurable returns (71%) and inadequate program budgets (62%).

Biggest barrier to a successful health and well-being program: lack of employee engagement (to a great extent)

Biggest barrier to a successful health and well-being program: lack of employee engagement (to a great extent)

To reap the rewards that a strong health and productivity strategy can deliver — and to make good on their commitment to improving workforce health — employers can follow the lead of highly effective organizations. Employers with effective health and productivity programs make wise decisions in four areas: prevention, personal support, organizational support, and design and delivery.

Designing an effective employee health and productivity framework

Designing an effective employee health and productivity framework