via Wall Street Journal
In the past few years, workplace wellness programs like health coaching were hot. Now they are not. A big new survey of benefits from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers are cooling toward certain wellness benefits. Originally designed to cut employers’ health costs, benefits like on-site flu shots, 24-hour nurse hot lines, health coaching and insurance-premium discounts for weight loss all have declined over the past year, the study found.
As employers begin to analyze return-on-investment and participation data, they “may be taking a step back,” said Evren Esen,director of survey programs at SHRM, the world’s largest society for human-resources professionals.
Just 37% of the employers studied offered health coaching—counseling designed to motivate employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Last year, nearly half of them offered that benefit. Fewer employers are making seasonal flu vaccinations available at work, with 54% doing so, down from 61% last year.
Measuring return on investment for wellness programs is difficult, in part because the programs vary widely. Plus, many factors affect employee health and health-care spending. One Rand Corp. study of a Fortune 100 company found that a lifestyle-management wellness program lost about 50 cents for every dollar spent. Other big studies of different wellness programs have found more positive results.