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Wellness Programs Produce Stronger, Healthier, More Productive Workers
Americans’ increased focus on personal well-being improves workplace performance

Americans work harder, are more productive and miss fewer days of work as a result of wellness benefit programs, according to the latest Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM. Forty-one percent of workers agree that having a wellness program encourages them to work harder and perform better at work.

The index, which surveys American workers at growing businesses with 10-1,000 workers1, is released by the Principal Financial Group® and conducted by Harris Interactive®. These findings focusing specifically on wellness attitudes and behaviors among American workers were taken from the fourth quarter 2011 Index.

According to the research, 52 percent of workers (up from 37 percent last year) said they have more energy to be more productive at work by participating in a wellness program. Another 35 percent (up from 28 percent a year ago) said that they have missed fewer days of work by participating in a wellness program.

“Americans’ increasing sense of personal responsibility for their physical well-being leads to workers showing up to work and staying productive while there,” said Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group. “Employers who embrace a culture of wellness in their workplaces can benefit in return with not only costs-savings, but healthier and more engaged employees.”

Forty-five percent of workers chose better overall physical health as the top benefit to participating in a wellness program. Other top mentions included receiving a meaningful incentive from their employer for participation (30 percent) and reduced personal healthcare costs, greater chance of living a longer, healthier life and reduced stress (29 percent each). Fifty-five percent of workers rated wellness activities offered by an employer as very successful or somewhat successful in improving health and reducing health risks.

Worker Desires and Employer Offerings Don’t Match Up
When it comes to wellness benefits workers desire and wellness benefits actually offered by employers, the two groups diverge. The top four wellness benefits workers would most like to see their employer offer are fitness center discounts (25 percent), on-site preventive screenings (22 percent), access to wellness experts such as nutritionists (21 percent) and onsite fitness facilities (19 percent). However, the top four wellness benefits offered by employers are online wellness information (19 percent), educational tools or resources (18 percent), fitness center discounts (17 percent) and printed wellness information (17 percent). Interestingly, access to wellness experts was only available to 11 percent of those surveyed.

“As Americans become more involved in their own health, they want new ways to improve their health while at work, as evidenced by their increasing demand for health coaches and preventive screenings,” said Dukes.

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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 20 and October 31, 2011 among 1,121 employees and 533 retirees. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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.

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