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The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM Executive Summary of Wellness Results - Fourth Quarter 2009

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 30th, 2009 among 1,120 employees and 602 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, 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 facilities (15%), and fitness center discounts (14%). As would be expected, wellness benefits are more likely to be offered at larger firms (501-1000 employees).
  • Wellness Benefits Desired - The top three benefits employees would most like to see their employer offer are fitness facilities (27%), fitness center discounts (23%), and weight management programs (19%).
  • Employer Encouragement to Participate in Wellness Programs - Employers encourage their employees to participate in wellness programs offered at the workplace in a number of ways. Nearly a quarter of employees (22%) indicated their management encourages them to participate in wellness benefits. Seventeen percent of employees have flexible work schedules that allow time for participation during the workday while another 15% of employees are offered lower health insurance costs for participating in wellness benefits.
  • Perceived Benefits that Encourage Employee Participation - All employees (including those not offered wellness benefits in their workplace) were asked to identify three benefits that would encourage them to participate in a wellness program. Nearly half of employees (47%) chose better overall physical health as a benefit of participating in a wellness program. Other top mentions included reduced personal healthcare costs (30%), greater chance of living a longer, healthier life (30%), receiving a meaningful incentive from their employer for participation (28%), and reduced stress (28%).
  • Effect of Wellness Program on Employee Motivation, Retention, and Attendance - Overall, 40% of employees strongly agree or somewhat agree that wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better. Nearly half of employees (45%) strongly agree or somewhat agree that having an employer sponsored wellness program would encourage them to stay in their current employment situation. Just about a quarter of employees (26%) agree strongly or somewhat that they have missed fewer days of work by participating in a wellness program.
  • Anticipated Medical Insurance Changes - Employees who are offered health insurance through their employer were asked what they anticipate will happen with their insurance in 2010. Nearly two thirds (65%) expect their premiums will increase, just under half (47%) expect their deductibles will increase, a third or so (34%) expect a change in medical plan options, and over a quarter (29%) expect a reduction in coverage.

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