Your New Personal Trainer: Your Boss

August 30th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

Employers look to shape up health habits – and their bottom lines.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

We recently discussed how healthy habits and productivity go hand-in-hand in the workplace, and apparently employers are beginning to take notice. According to an NPR story, as health plans become more expensive for employers to furnish under the Affordable Care Act, they’re looking to cut costs “from the bottom up” – by directly addressing their employees’ health habits. 

A recent survey by Aon Hewitt reports that in 2012, 59 percent of employers used some kind of monetary incentive to promote participation in health and wellness programs, up from 37 percent in 2011. And incentives for participating in disease or condition management programs nearly tripled in 2012, to 54 percent from 17 percent in 2011.

In a written statement, Aon’s Jim Winkler reported that employers are beginning to focus on the fact that employee health can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line. “[They’re] spending a lot of money on health care and health-related absenteeism,” he said. “We need to change that dynamic.” Enter a new range of health-related initiatives: sponsored fitness challenges, stress reduction techniques, and smoking cessation programs. 

Aon also found that incentives run both ways, as some companies are denying discounts to employees who make bad health choices. And employers are increasingly looking to tie incentives to results, requiring the completion of a questionnaire or participation in a program like disease management or smoking cessation for employees to get their enhanced benefits. 

What approach would best motivate you – health for health’s sake, or cash for good behavior?