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The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM - Wellness Summary 4th Quarter 2011

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 31st, 2011 among 1,121 employees and 533 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 four wellness benefits offered are online wellness information (19%), educational tools or resources (18%), fitness center discounts (17%) and printed wellness information (17%). As would be expected, wellness benefits are more likely to be offered at larger firms (501-1000 employees).
  • Wellness Benefits Desired – The top four benefits employees would most like to see their employer offer are fitness center discounts (25%), on-site preventive screenings (22%) and access to wellness experts such as nutritionists (21%) and onsite fitness facilities (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 two in ten employees (18%) indicated their management encourages them to participate in wellness benefits. Sixteen percent (16%) of employees are offered lower health insurance costs for participating in wellness benefits at their workplace. Another 12% of employees are offered other financial incentives (such as gift certificates or discounts) or offered cash incentives for participating.
  • 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 one in two employees (45%) chose better overall physical health as a benefit of participating in a wellness program.
    • Other top mentions included receiving a meaningful incentive from their employer for participation (30%) reduced personal healthcare costs, greater chance of living a longer, healthier life and reduced stress (29% each). The employer making it convenient for them to participate was mentioned by 23% of employees, down significantly from 28% in 2010.
  • Effect of Wellness Program on Employee Motivation, Retention, Attendance and Productivity
    • About two out of five employees (41%) strongly agree or somewhat agree that wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better.
    • Four in ten employees (40%) strongly agree or somewhat agree that having an employer sponsored wellness program would encourage them to stay in their current employment situation. Compared to 2010, these results are down significantly from 48% in 2010.
    • Just over a third of employees who use at least one wellness program once a year (35%) agree strongly or somewhat that they have missed fewer days of work by participating in a wellness program. (This is up significantly from 28% in 2010.)
    • Slightly more than half who use at least one wellness program once a year (52%) agree to some extent that they have more energy to be more productive at work by participating in a wellness program. Compared to last year, these results are up significantly from 37%.
  • Perceived Success of Wellness Activities to Improve Health and Reduce Health Risks
    • Over half of employees (55%) rated wellness activities offered by an employer very successful or somewhat successful in improving health and reducing health risks, while about a quarter (24%) were neutral in their rating (neither successful nor unsuccessful). Two in ten employees (20%) were more skeptical about the success of wellness activities (somewhat unsuccessful or very unsuccessful rating).
  • Anticipated Medical Insurance Changes – Employees who are offered health insurance through their employer were asked what they anticipate will happen with their insurance in 2012. Nearly two thirds (62%) expect their premiums will increase, 43% of employees expect their deductibles will increase, 28% expect a change in medical plan options, and about a quarter of employees (24%) expect a reduction in coverage.

View questions and data (PDF: 57 KB)

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