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Upping The Ante On Wellness: According To Buck Consultant's Fifth Annual Global Wellness Survey, Employers Show Increased Commitment To Health And Wellness Initiatives Despite Hard Economic Times. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Wellness programs are no longer a “soft” issue for organizations around the globe as employers increasingly recognize the value of employees’ health and overall well-being to their organizations’ bottom line. According to the latest report from Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company (NYSE: XRX), employers cite their commitment to promoting health and wellness as a business strategy and show continued desire to expand health promotion initiatives.

“Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies” found that employers, regardless of location, identified improving worker productivity and reducing presenteeism as one of their top wellness program objectives.

“With productivity having a direct tie to bottom-line revenue, organizations now consider health promotion as a core business value that positively impacts their ability to compete,” said Dave Ratcliffe, principal, Buck Consultants. “With signs of job market improvement emerging in the U.S., employers will be challenged to maintain productivity gains earned during the recession as employees have increased job mobility.”

As health promotion takes its place as a top consideration among drivers of profitability and performance, an increasing number of organizations recognize their role in managing employee health – 87 percent in 2012 vs. 75 percent in 2010.

Overall, still only 36 percent of respondents currently measure specific outcomes of their health promotion programs, citing lack of resources (68 percent) and not knowing how to measure (34 percent) as the top reasons for not measuring. The likelihood of measurement increases with employer size, although even among the largest employers (20,000+ employees), only 47 percent report having measured specific outcomes.

Buck’s fifth annual global wellness survey analyzed responses from more than 1,300 organizations in 45 countries representing more than 17 million employees.

Another key finding to emerge in this year’s survey is employers’ reaction to the recent economic downturn between employers who measure program results and those who do not. Thirty percent of employers who measured health promotion program outcomes indicated that they increased their emphasis on wellness programs during tough economic outlook vs. 21 percent of employers who do not measure outcomes.

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