Employees Place a Premium on Culture of Wellness but Employers Still Struggle to Communicate and Measure the Effectiveness of Programs, According to New Virgin HealthMiles Survey

Survey kicks off Fifth Annual National Employee Wellness Month, examines how culture and communication shape happiness and engagement of employees

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--()--A new survey of approximately 1,300 businesses and 10,000 employees conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, Inc., found a strong link between the wellness and vitality of an organization and the health and wellness of its employees – resulting in employees’ increased job morale, satisfaction, commitment and performance. Additionally, employees place a premium on the culture of wellness with 87% claiming that health and wellness programs play a role in determining their employer of choice. However, quantifying the bottom-line impact of these programs continues to be a challenge for employers.

Of the 1,300 businesses surveyed, 80% offer health and wellness benefits. Among that group, 47% have extended those health and wellness benefits to spouses of employees as broadening programs beyond the four walls of the corporation is becoming a fast-growing trend of the wellness culture. Employees are responding positively to this new trend with 77% claiming that health and wellness programs positively impact the culture at work.

“Creating a culture-first mentality is a critical step for employers when it comes to building a highly engaged workforce,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. “The trends outlined within this survey mirror what we’re seeing in the market: employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.”

The survey marks the kickoff of the fifth annual National Employee Wellness Month. Created in 2009 by Virgin HealthMiles in partnership with the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, this year’s initiative is also sponsored by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork. More than 175 organizations and 70,000 employees have pledged their support for this important initiative including companies such as Avon, Canyon Ranch Institute, Coca-Cola, Intuit, Jack in the Box, Lockheed Martin Corporation and The Ohio State University, among others.

Key Survey Findings

  • Health and wellness programs are important to employees. Approximately 87% of employees surveyed said they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer and 80% of employees surveyed say that they believe their employer cares about their well being.
  • Health and wellness programs have a positive impact on an organization’s culture. 70% of employees say that wellness programs positively influence the culture at work. Survey respondents shared that their health and wellness habits are not just motivated by colleagues (58%) but also spouses/partners (53%), friends (41%) and children (32%).
  • Incentives matter. Incentives also play a big role in the motivation of employees to participate in wellness programs, with 61% of employees saying it is a key reason they participate and 78% claiming they are interested in participating in incentive-based programs while at work. The commonly-offered positive programs by employers today are: physical activity programs (58%), smoking cessation (50%) weight management (49%) and health risk assessments (47%). However, the programs that employees are most interested in varied a bit from what most employers are offering.
  • Communication is a concern. Only 51% of employees surveyed said they have a good understanding of how to participate in health and wellness programs being offered by their employers. With 82% of organizations relying primarily on email as the main source of communication for these programs, there is a trend of companies moving to a more direct communication model of manager to employee, with 26% of organizations reporting they are now using this method.
  • Measuring impact continues to be a challenge. While employees are confident in reporting how health and wellness programs have benefited them, employers still struggle with finding a tangible way to directly correlate these programs to bottom-line benefits – yet 67% are exploring the possible connections.

The employer portion was conducted by Workforce Management Magazine from April 29 – May 3, 2013 and the employee portion was conducted by Virgin HealthMiles from May 6 – May 10, 2013.

To download a free summary of the extensive survey findings visit: http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/info/Pages/Business_Survey_Social.aspx.

June is National Employee Wellness Month

Now in its fifth year, National Employee Wellness Month is an annual initiative that helps business leaders learn how companies are successfully engaging employees in healthy lifestyles. It showcases how prevention, coupled with supportive social communities like the workplace, can improve employee health and productivity, lower healthcare costs, and create a healthy workplace culture. Here is what this year’s sponsors have to say about the issue:

“Companies should look to move beyond the static Wellness 1.0 approach and find new ways to engage and motivate employees to help them bring their best selves to work and be more productive as well as more physically and mentally sharp,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. “This annual initiative helps drive greater awareness by highlighting the successes of forward-thinking employers – those focused on supporting their employees’ total quality of life and making their businesses a best place to work.”

Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the STOP Obesity Alliance, said, “Overcoming obesity requires creating environments where people have opportunities to make healthful decisions. STOP Obesity Alliance is proud to continue its support of National Employee Wellness Month as the initiative creates awareness that the workplace is another area where we can work together to manage and support efforts to address health.”

Kenneth Thorpe, PhD., Chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, said, "The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is proud to support National Employee Wellness Month, as supporting wellness in the workplace not only helps prevent and manage chronic disease, but also makes a positive impact on companies’ bottom lines. Helping people stay healthier is essential to reducing the human and financial burden of chronic disease."

Anne C. Ruddy, CCP, president and CEO, WorldatWork said, “Managing rising healthcare costs while providing employees with valuable healthcare benefits is a momentous challenge for organizations and benefits professionals. Encouraging and promoting a healthy workforce is no longer simply the right thing to do, it’s a business necessity. National Employee Wellness Month provides organizations with an excellent opportunity to make employee health engagement a top priority. WorldatWork is proud to support this important initiative.”


Virgin HealthMiles, part of Sir Richard Branson’s famed Virgin Group, is the industry’s top performing health engagement platform. We help employers encourage their employees to adopt healthier lifestyles and create great places to work. Using the latest in social, gaming, and rewards technologies, Virgin HealthMiles gets more people to change their behavior in meaningful ways for longer periods of time than any other company. More than 200 industry leaders representing 1,000,000+ employees have selected Virgin HealthMiles’ award-winning programs for their workplace. True to our Virgin roots, we don’t just play the game. We change it for good. Learn more at www.virginhealthmiles.com.


For Virgin HealthMiles
Amy Peterson, 617-986-5026


For Virgin HealthMiles
Amy Peterson, 617-986-5026