A recently released study shows that the number of companies incorporating wellness and productivity initiatives into their overall healthcare planning has risen dramatically since 2003. The 2005/2006 Staying @ Work Survey by Washington, D.C.—based consulting firm Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health, an employer think tank also based in Washington D.C, found that 73 percent of employers already incorporate health and productivity initiatives or are planning to by 2006.

'Employers recognize that a healthy and productive workforce directly impacts their bottom line,' says Shelly
Wolff, national director of health and productivity consulting at Watson Wyatt.

The study found that companies that have implemented at least 20 health or productivity practices are nearly six times more likely to report that their employees have a good understanding of health improvement than those of companies with 10 or fewer practices. And companies with 20 or more practices are twice as likely to say their strategy increases employee satisfaction than those with 10 or fewer practices.

'This is clearly a case where more is better,' says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. Darling noted that companies implementing these programs see reductions in lost time and improved workforce health, resulting in lower costs. 'With many different avenues to explore, employers can invest in a broad-based approach and achieve better results.'

Among companies that implement health and productivity practices, some of the more popular health programs offered in 2005/2006 include:

94% offer Employee Assistance Programs

81% offer Return-to-Work Programs

75% offer Health Promotion Programs

72% offer Health Risk Appraisals

71% offer Work/Life Balance Programs

40% offer Personal Health Coaches