Survey of Canadian companies reveals struggle with corporate health and wellness

A recent survey highlighting corporate health and wellness programs across Canada found that many employers are struggling to make the implementation of a wellness program a priority.

The 2011 Buffet National Wellness Survey results were presented recently at the Sun Life Wellness Institute Breakfast Presentation and revealed that although the nation’s employers understand the importance in promoting wellness among the workforce, they are having a difficult time creating systems needed to improve the overall health of their employees.

“We’re pleased that the majority of employers surveyed recognize that their employees’ health affects productivity and performance,” said Lori Casselman, assistant vice president of Health and Wellness and Group Benefits at Sun Life Financial. “However, while many organizations offer wellness initiatives, most aren’t creating a strategic plan to improve employee well-being and ensure sustainable outcomes.”

The survey highlighted the main health issues experienced by Canadian employers regarding their workforce and found 56 percent cite work-related stress as the most significant health factor plaguing their company. Smoking was second at 35 percent, and mental health issues and high blood pressure registered with 35 percent of respondents.

When it comes to problems associated with creating an effective wellness program for workers, 64 percent of organizations said their wellness initiatives do not produce measurable results, with 69 percent saying they do not calculate a return on their investment from the program.

“Sun Life Financial is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Canadians and believes that healthy employees lead to healthy organizations,” Casselman said. “Resources like the Buffett National Wellness Survey help Canadian organizations identify gaps and areas for improvement by providing information to help guide planning and business case development with a focus on achieving maximum productivity, increased job satisfaction and lower absenteeism.”

Still, businesses in Canada and around the world have found ways to successfully create a wellness program with the key being to engage 100 percent of the workforce to participate. This can be done by providing attractive incentives for employees that meet certain benchmarks and effectively contribute to lowering the employer’s overall healthcare costs, which is a main reason for the need of these programs.