By Shelby Livingston, Crain News Service
LAS VEGAS (July 2, 2015) — Research from the Society for Human Resource Management Inc. (SHRM) shows employers are turning to chronic disease management programs, fitness classes and even massages to combat rising health care costs.
According to the survey of 463 employers that SHRM released June 29, 28 percent of employers have increased the benefits they offer employees this year.
Seventy percent of employers offer wellness programs, and 8 percent plan to in the next 12 months, SHRM found. In addition, 46 percent of employers offer health and lifestyle coaching, 44 percent provide smoking-cessation programs, and 40 percent offer chronic disease programs, according to the survey.
“Wellness benefits provide employers with a preventive approach that can reduce health care expenses for organizations over the long haul,” Evren Esen, director of SHRM's survey programs, said in a statement.
Aside from costs, wellness programs increase engagement and get employees “energized and excited,” Ms. Esen said during a news conference in Las Vegas during SHRM's annual conference.
Incentives and insurance premium discounts remain drivers of wellness program participation, SHRM said. Forty percent of employers offer incentives for participating in wellness programs, up from 31 percent last year, and 25 percent of employers offer health care premium discounts for employees who get an annual health risk assessment, up from 21 percent last year, SHRM said.