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The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM Executive Summary of Wellness Results - Fourth Quarter 2008

This Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group® between October 22nd and October 29th, 2008 among 1,179 employees and 625 retirees. This is one in a series of quarterly studies to identify and track changes in the workplace of small and mid-sized (growing) businesses. The first Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM survey was conducted in the United States in 2000.

Employees consisted of adults 18+ who work at small and mid-sized (SMB) U.S. businesses (firm size 10-1,000 employees). Retirees consisted of adults age 60+ who reported they are retired or those who are employed part-time or self-employed and have retired from a previous career. Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the entire population of adult employees working for small to mid-sized U.S. businesses and retirees. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Key Findings

  • Wellness Benefits - The top three wellness benefits offered are educational tools or resources (16%), fitness center discounts (13%), and fitness facilities (11%). As would be expected, wellness benefits are more likely to be offered at larger firms (501-1000 employees).
  • Wellness Benefits Desired - To understand what wellness benefits employees desire, employees were given a list of benefits not currently offered by their firms and asked to pick the top 3 they would like to see offered. Fitness facilities received the highest percentage of mentions (28%). Nearly one third (31%) responded they would prefer to see their employer offer "none of these".
  • Employee Participation in Wellness Program Encouragement - Employees were asked to identify three benefits that would encourage them to participate in a wellness program. The greatest perceived benefit of a wellness program was better overall physical health, cited by 53% of the employees. Other top mentions included reduced personal healthcare costs (38%), receive an incentive or reward to participate (38%), greater chance of living a longer, healthier life (32%), and employer provides opportunity to participate (31%).
  • Health Plan Options - Forty-two percent of employees have more than one health plan option available. Consistent with 2007, 11% of employees report their employer does not offer health insurance. The larger the firm, the more likely there are multiple health plans available. Firms with 10 to 500 employees are significantly more likely to offer no health options or only one option. In contrast, firms with 501 to 1,000 employees are more likely to offer 3 health plan options or 4 or more health plan options.
  • Anticipated Medical Insurance Changes - Employees who are offered health insurance were asked what they anticipate will happen with their insurance in 2009. Sixty-six percent expect their premiums will increase, 43% expect their deductibles will increase, 27% expect a reduction in coverage and 23% expect their medical plan options will change.

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