Consumers Show Lack of Awareness of Workplace Wellness Programs

Access to workplace wellness programs has been on the rise, but employers and providers still face steep challenges that can prevent these programs from being worth the investment.

Access to workplace wellness programs has been on the rise, but employers and providers still face steep challenges that can prevent these programs from being worth the investment.

A new survey from Brodeur Partners determined that workplace wellness programs face steep challenges around awareness and acceptance. While 70% of all employers—and 85% of companies with more than 1000 employees—claim they have a workplace wellness program, only 34% of employees surveyed said they have such a program at work.

"Either employees aren't getting the memo about the programs that exist in their workplaces, or they don't consider what their employers are offering to be true wellness programs,” Andrea Coville, chief executive officer of Brodeur Partners, said in a statement. “Companies need to communicate clearly, aggressively and creatively about what they're offering and how the programs can enhance their employees' well-being."

Nearly half (45%) of employee respondents said that if their company did offer a workplace wellness program, they would participate. These respondents all believe that a program is unavailable at their job.

The perceived lack of access to wellness programs is unevenly distributed among age groups. Among respondents age 55 years or older, only 24% said they had a workplace wellness program compared with 41% of millennials. Older employees are also more likely to resist these programs: only 27% of millennials said they do not or would not participate in a wellness program if it was offered while 45% of baby boomers said the same.

Some of the reasons why employees are pushing back against these programs include privacy concerns (50%), doubt that the programs would actually be helpful (31%), and lack of confidence in their employer’s ability to run an effective program (19%).

"This is a troubling inversion, but there's an opportunity here," Coville said. "Older workers, given that they are at higher risk for many conditions, are likely to deliver the biggest return on investment in a wellness program. Employers that can effectively address the concerns of older workers, who certainly value their well-being as much as anyone, can suddenly possess a sizeable population of new advocates."