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American Workers Say Wellness Works to Improve Health, Save Costs

Employers reap the benefits of a healthier workforce

February 16, 2011 (Des Moines, IA) - Achieving better overall health is the top reason American workers (43 percent) report they participate or would participate in a wellness benefit program according to the latest Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM. Others include reduced personal health care costs (33 percent) and a greater chance of living longer and healthier lives (31 percent).

The index, which surveys American workers at growing businesses with 10-1,000 workers[1], is released by the Principal Financial Group® and conducted by Harris Interactive®. These findings focusing specifically on wellness attitudes and behaviors among American workers were taken from the fourth quarter 2010 Index.

The survey also found more than half (53 percent) of workers use weight management programs offered by their employers, a 25 percentage point increase over last year. This trend is echoed by a 21 percentage point increase in workers’ use of personalized action plans for high risk conditions to 68 percent, and an eighteen percentage point increase in workers’ use of blood sugar screenings to 84 percent.

“This dramatic increase in workers taking advantage of these wellness benefits is indicative of Americans’ greater sense of personal responsibility towards their own health,” said Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group. “With health care costs on the rise and increasing public awareness of illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, Americans are ready to take action. Workplace wellness gives employees a convenient, simple way to get started.”   

Employers See Productivity Gains From Wellness Programs

While employee participation in wellness programs may be driven by a sense of personal responsibility, employers also benefit from the programs. The survey found that 43 percent of workers agree wellness benefits motivate them to work harder and perform better.  Over a quarter (28 percent) of workers surveyed believe they have missed fewer days of work as a direct result of participating in a wellness program and 38 percent of workers attributed wellness programs to improved energy and productivity at work.

Providing further support for the correlation between personal health and happiness in the workplace, nearly half (48 percent) of workers surveyed agreed that wellness benefits encourage them to stay in their current employment situation.

“Employers who invest in their workers’ wellness will see returns beyond a physically healthier employee,” said Amy Friedrich, vice president of Specialty Benefits for The Principal®. “By offering workers the means and the educational tools to take control of their wellness, you promote a healthier, more productive work environment.”


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 20th and October 28th, 2010, among 1,159 workers and 528 retirees. Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available. This is one in a series of quarterly studies to identify and track changes in the workplace of small and midsize (growing) businesses. The first Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM survey was conducted in the United States in 2000.

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About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal ®)[2] is a leader in offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement and investment services, life and health insurance, and banking through its diverse family of financial services companies.  A member of the Fortune 500, the Principal Financial Group has $318.8 billion in assets under management[3] and serves some 19.1 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit

Survey of 1,159 employees and 528 retirees conducted October 2010.
"The Principal Financial Group" and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
As of Dec. 31, 2010.

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