Survey: Employees satisfied with wellness programs, but more personalization is needed

DENVER, Colo. Personalization, providing rewards and understanding what employees want are key to maximizing value in employer-sponsored health and well-being programs according to results from a new national survey released by Welltok, Inc., developer of the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform ™ and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), a non-profit organization that leads initiatives to address the most relevant healthcare issues facing employers today. The survey, Whispers from the Water Cooler: What motivates employees to improve their health and well-being, explores how employees view an employer’s involvement in programs that impact physical and emotional health, social connectedness and financial security. The survey also examined the impact of rewards, uncovered participation motivators and exposed where opinions differ by gender, income and age.

“The majority of companies providing health and well-being programs can maximize the value of what they are offering, regardless of their current levels of employee participation,” said Michelle Snyder, chief marketing officer for Welltok. “Clearly, not every group is motivated by the same drivers and there is room for all to grow. The findings confirm that employers must connect individuals with the right topics and content, as well as create the right support networks if they want to generate the highest possible return on investment.”

Based on the responses of over 1,000 full-time employees working for large companies, the results show that a vast majority perceive employer-sponsored programs as having a positive impact. Other notable survey findings include:

  • Satisfaction with health and well-being programs is high, but more personalization is needed. Most participants (81 percent) saw a positive impact on their physical well-being and more than 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed that including family in such programs would likely increase their participation. For those that did not participate, 37 percent did not find them personally relevant and 20 percent didn’t know they were available, a strong indication that greater personalization and awareness is needed to drive employee engagement.
  • Rewards work for all employees, regardless of income and age. The majority (91 percent) would engage in healthier behaviors if they were rewarded, including those who had an income of at least $200,000 (78 percent). Nearly all employees under 35-years-old agreed (98 percent), but those over 55 weren’t quite as motivated by rewards (85 percent).
  • Colleagues and direct managers are top motivators. 86 percent ranked their colleagues as one of the top motivators to improving their overall health and well-being at work, followed closely by their direct manager (57 percent). Perceptions varied by age, however. Millennials were partial to their direct manager’s influence (64 percent) but less so to human resources (HR) (24 percent) whereas their 55 or older counterparts were less motivated by direct managers (51 percent) and more influenced by HR (40 percent).
  • Younger and lower income employees say employers should help them to become more financially secure. More than half (63 percent) of the households making less than $50,000 wanted employers to play a role in their financial well-being, while that figure dropped to less than half (44 percent) for those making $200,000 or more. Looking at age, 60 percent of participants between 18 and 34 thought employers should be involved in financial health, whereas less than half of those 45 and older agreed. Gender impacted these perceptions as well – 58 percent of females felt employers should play a role in employees’ financial health versus 48 percent of males.
  • There is a role for employers in improving health and wellbeing, but participation still lags. When asked about the role employers should play in employee health, getting cost effective care and providing emotional/personal support resources ranked highest among respondents (77 percent and 74 percent agreed or strongly agreed, respectively). The majority of employees also see a role for their employer in helping them to stop unhealthy behaviors or managing financial issues (53 percent agreed or strongly agreed). Yet participation in employer-sponsored programs remains low. For example, emotional health and financial security programs had the lowest levels of participation – 24 and 37 percent. Even physical health programs have room for improvement – only 48 percent of employees had participated in a program to help them improve their physical health.

“It is clear that employees can benefit from employer-sponsored programs aimed at improving physical, financial and emotional health, along with decision support resources to maximize their health care experience,” said Brian Marcotte, CEO and president of the National Business Group on Health. “The ‘one size fits all’ approach to communications, however, has proven ineffective in engaging employees and engagement is now the number one challenge facing employers. Personalization is the key and there are emerging engagement platforms and point solutions that show great promise in driving and sustaining engagement by leveraging data, predictive analytics and technology to reach people with personalized, timely, relevant and actionable information.”

Employers looking to learn more about this study – including additional data cuts, webinars or implications from the data – are encouraged to reach out to or


This survey was conducted online within the United States by the National Business Group of Health in partnership with Welltok from April 29-May 11, 2016. 1,003 online interviews were conducted based on the following criteria: companies employed more than 1,000 people at all locations, respondents received health insurance provided by their current employer and were working full-time (more than 30 hours per week). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About Welltok

Welltok, Inc., developer of the healthcare industry’s first consumer enterprise platform, is transforming the way population health managers guide and incentivize consumers to optimize their health. The CaféWell Health Optimization Platform® organizes the growing spectrum of health improvement and condition management resources, obtains unparalleled consumer insights through advanced analytics, and leverages multi-channel communications to connect consumers to the right resources, at the right time.  Health plans, employers and other sponsors now have an efficient and effective way to engage, activate and reward consumers, which drives greater healthcare value across all types of populations, from kids to seniors.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation’s only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and helping companies optimize business performance through health improvement, innovation and health care management. The Business Group leads initiatives to address the most relevant health care issues facing employers today and enables human resource and benefit leaders to learn, share and leverage best practices from the most progressive companies. Business Group members, which include 72 Fortune 100 companies, provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information,