For Immediate Release
June 5, 2017

Anne Killian, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
(262) 373-7614 |

Workplace Wellness Goes Beyond ROI

75 percent of employers are offering wellness programs more to improve worker health and well-being, less to curb health care costs

BROOKFIELD, WI, June 5, 2017 – Employers are trading return on investment (ROI) numbers for the prevalence of worker health and well-being when it comes to workplace wellness programs. Continued increases in productivity and decreases in absenteeism strengthen the case for workplace wellness programs, according to findings from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Workplace Wellness 2017 Survey Report.

The survey found 75 percent of employers offer wellness initiatives primarily to improve overall worker health and well-being. Only one in four employers said the main reason for offering wellness initiatives is to control/reduce health-related costs.

"Employers are realizing that wellness is not just about cutting health care costs, because wellness is not only about physical health, " said Julie Stich, CEBS, associate vice president of content at the International Foundation. "Embracing the broad definition of wellness has led to a tremendous impact on organizational health and worker productivity and happiness."

Among employers offering and measuring their wellness efforts, more than half have found a decrease in absenteeism, 63 percent are experiencing financial sustainability and growth in the organization, 66 percent reported increased productivity and 67 percent said employees are more satisfied.

According to the survey, 77 percent of employers offer free or discounted flu shots, so traditional wellness offerings continue to gain steam. Popular emerging wellness benefits include:

  • Chiropractic services coverage – 62%
  • Community charity drives/events – 59%
  • On-site events/celebrations – 58%
  • Wellness competitions like walking/fitness challenges – 51%
  • Healthy food choices in cafeteria or vending machines – 44%
  • Standing/walking work stations – 42%
  • Wearable fitness trackers – 23%

Even though 92 percent of workplaces offering wellness programs and tracking wellness ROI report their initiatives as very or somewhat successful, barriers still exist in implementing wellness initiatives. Common barriers include:

  • Difficulty for workers to find enough time to participate – 39%
  • Dispersed population – 27%
  • Difficulty maintaining momentum – 26%
  • Prohibitive costs – 25%
  • Lack of interest by workers – 24%

Employers are using wellness incentives like gift cards, gym reimbursements and contributions to health accounts (HSAs, HRAs or FSAs) to help build interest among workers, and most are considering the incentives to be successful. Employers are also implementing targeted wellness communication campaigns to overcome common barriers, reaching out to different generations/age groups, those with health risks and those managing various life events (parenting, retirement, aging parents, etc.).

For more information and to read the full survey report, visit Survey responses were received from 530 members of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and National Wellness Institute.


About the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 33,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit

About the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists
The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) is a membership organization for those who have earned or are pursuing the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), Group Benefits Associate (GBA), Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) or Compensation Management Specialist (CMS) designations. Members have access to educational programs, information resources, networking at the local and national levels, publications and other services. Nearly 4,000 CEBS, GBA, RPA and CMS designees are members of ISCEBS; they work for corporations, consulting firms, multiemployer funds and insurance companies and in other industry professions.

About the National Wellness Institute
The National Wellness Institute (NWI) is the leader in providing professional development and engagement opportunities that support individuals from a variety of disciplines in promoting whole-person wellness. At the core of NWI offerings is a six-dimensional model of wellness that provides the categories from which NWI derives its resources and services.