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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: October 26, 2010
Health And Financial Concerns Impact Employee Productivity – Self-Efficacy Program Helps

The popularity of employee wellness programs has increased steadily over the last five years. Thirty-seven percent of employers now offer wellness programs, up from 33 percent in 2008 and 27 percent in 2005, according to MetLife’s 8th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study. The employer study involved 1,503 interviews with benefits decision-makers at companies with staff sizes of at least two employees.

This upward trend reflects recognition of the impact of a struggling economy on the workforce. In the same study, 68 percent of employees stated that over the last 12 months they were affected by increased feelings of job insecurity, a decrease in the quality of their work, an increase in their workload, or distraction at work due to financial worries.

Improving employee productivity remains the third most important benefits coverage to employers with 84 percent reporting it as a very important benefits objective, up from 79 percent in 2008, the study found. Controlling benefits costs is now the top benefits objective for employers edging out employee retention for the first time since 2006.

The "next benefits frontier" will focus on providing employees access to health and wellness programs along with the necessary education to become healthier and more financially secure, said Anthony J. Nugent, Metlife’s executive vice president, U.S. business. Approximately 9 out of 10 employees said they believe their productivity would be favorably impacted by such programs.

Specifically, employees felt their productivity could be improved with:

  • Financial advice and guidance programs – 77 percent;
  • Health and wellness programs – 81 percent; and
  • Work/life balance programs – 82 percent.

In addition, 37 percent of employees strongly believe they worry less about unexpected healthand financial issues because of the benefits they receive at work. This increases to 66 percent for employees who report being very satisfied with their employers’ benefits.

Among larger employers – those with 500 or more employees – 61 percent offer wellness programs, up from 57 percent in 2008 and 46 percent in 2005. Employee participation in these programs is also on the rise. Fifty-seven percent participate in wellness programs when offered, compared to 46 percent in 2008, the study found.

  • 71 percent participating in these programs said they greatly value the offering;
  • 70 percent said they participate because they desire good health;
  • 50 percent said they are motivated to participate because of financial incentives; and
  • 48 percent of employers who offer wellness programs said they are effective at improving productivity.

Sixty-five percent of employers believe employees are less productive at work when they are worried about personal financial problems, and 52 percent believe absenteeism increases when employees are dealing with personal financial issues. Given that 56 percent of working Americans and 62 percent of working women are very concerned about just making ends meet, it is also not surprising that one-quarter of employees admit feeling more distracted at work because of financial worries.

Employees’ health status can impact their financial status which, employers agree, impacts productivity. According to the MetLife study, employees in poor health are more likely to report financial concerns. Sixty-five percent who assess their medical health as fair or poor said they live paycheck-to-paycheck, compared to 43 percent of respondents in good or better health.

Thirty-four percent of employees who assess their medical health as fair or poor anticipate a deterioration of their financial situation in the next six months compared to only 12 percent in good or better health.

Only 37 percent of employees surveyed express confidence about their ability to make the right financial decisions. One of the major lessons that employees learned this past year is the need to focus on their long-term financial health. Fifty-four percent of employees report that the economic events of the past 12 months has made them realize the need to more actively manage saving for retirement.

To achieve this, many employees are seeking advice and guidance in the workplace. Forty-two percent are interested in their employer providing access to retirement planning seminars, yet only 35 percent of employers currently offer these resources. However, 38 percent of employers believe retirement programs (i.e., offering 401(k) retirement seminars, access to retirement planning professionals, etc.) are very effective in improving employee productivity,the study found.

According to Dr. Ronald Leopold, Metlife’s vice president, U.S. business, "More than ever before, employers are recognizing the value of a healthy workforce and are viewing wellness programs as an investment to help address their business objectives."

"Employers have an opportunity to slow the ‘snowballing effect’ that the combination of employee health and wealth concerns have on their bottom line," he said. "By promoting programs that can help employees help themselves, employers can remove some of the financial burden from employees’ shoulders."

The 8th Annual Metlife Study of Employee Benefits Trends is available at www.metlife.com/trends2010 along with other related benefits resources.

Address: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 200 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10166; (877) 638-2862, www.metlife.com.


  This article was taken from:
Wellness Program Management Advisor

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