Survey Finds Strong Global Growth for Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace wellness strategies are rapidly growing in popularity outside of North America -- almost doubling in the past year -- to a point where 40 percent of employers surveyed in Europe, Asia and Africa now offer these programs, a global survey released today indicates.

"Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies," conducted by Buck Consultants, finds that although there is strong global growth for wellness programs, they are still most prevalent in North America, with 82 percent of responding employers offering them.

The second annual survey analyzed responses from more than 600 organizations in 25 countries representing more than 10 million employees. The research was conducted in association with vielife, a CIGNA company, as well as Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting, and WorldatWork.

The fastest-growing components of global wellness initiatives around the world include technology-driven tools, such as Web portals, online programs, and personal health records. Other rapidly growing program elements are: health fairs, healthy vending machine food choices, and workplace health competitions. Use of these program components will grow dramatically over the next three years -- in some cases, by more than 100 percent outside of North America.

Business objectives for wellness programs also vary by international location. In the United States, health care cost reduction continues to be the top goal. Canadian employers cite improving productivity as the primary objective, while in Europe the top goal is improving workforce morale. Respondents in both Asia and Africa cite reducing employee absence as their main objective for wellness programs.

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