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Corporate Wellness Programs: What Really Works?

 Corporate Wellness Programs: What Really Works?

Companies spend about $8 billon a year on wellness plans – but are they really worth it. Two experts, Jim Purcell, a leading U.S. consultant on wellness, and Bénédicte Lepère, Global SVP of HR at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, discuss the components of successful wellness programs and weigh out the benefits.


Why are wellness programs on the corporate agenda?


Jim Purcell: They first caught hold in the U.S. in the 1980s, when premiums for company health insurance became exorbitant – rising 18% in one year – and studies indicated that certain activities could reduce claims and therefore employer contributions. Those premiums have continued to rise, and firms now spend about $8 billion a year in the U.S. alone on wellness. Good programs improve productivity and morale, while reducing staff turnover, absenteeism and health costs. However, many programs fail, or are a waste of money.


Bénédicte Lepère: Yes, I agree with Jim. Although wellness programs have been a trendy topic over the past few years, there is a problem with many of the programs out there. Only 13% of U.S. employers have programs that are truly comprehensive, which means offering HRA healthcare reimbursements and biometric testing, while only 4% to 8% of employees actually participate in their wellness program.

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