Strong Global Growth for Workplace Wellness Programs Revealed by Buck Consultants Survey

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Workplace wellness strategies are rapidly growing in popularity outside of North America – almost doubling in the past year – to a point where 40 percent of employers surveyed in Europe, Asia and Africa now offer these programs, a global survey released today indicates. Although there is strong global growth for wellness programs, they are still most prevalent in North America, with 82 percent of responding employers offering them.

WORKING WELL: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies

Workplace wellness strategies are rapidly growing in popularity outside of North America – almost doubling in the past year – to a point where 40 percent of employers surveyed in Europe, Asia and Africa now offer these programs, a global survey released today indicates.

“WORKING WELL: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” conducted by Buck Consultants, an ACS company and one of the world’s leading human resource and benefits consulting firms, finds that although there is strong global growth for wellness programs, they are still most prevalent in North America, with 82 percent of responding employers offering them.

The second annual survey analyzed responses from more than 600 organizations in 25 countries representing more than 10 million employees. The research was conducted in association with vielife, a CIGNA company, as well as Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting, and WorldatWork.

The fastest-growing components of global wellness initiatives around the world include technology-driven tools, such as Web portals, online programs, and personal health records. Other rapidly growing program elements are: health fairs, healthy vending machine food choices, and workplace health competitions. Use of these program components will grow dramatically over the next three years – in some cases, by more than 100 percent outside of North America.

Business objectives for wellness programs also vary by international location. In the U.S., health care cost reduction continues to be the top goal. Canadian employers cite improving productivity as the primary objective, while in Europe the top goal is improving workforce morale. Respondents in both Asia and Africa cite reducing employee absence as their main objective for wellness programs.

“This broad range of objectives is not surprising,” said Barry Hall, a Buck principal who directed the survey. “In fact, it shows how versatile wellness initiatives can be in addressing a variety of employers’ challenges around the world.”

The survey assessed how effectively today’s wellness initiatives meet employers’ business objectives. Among U.S. respondents, only 16 percent report a reduction in health care cost trend rate attributable to their wellness initiatives, with an average reduction of two to five trend percentage points per year.

“Large employers that are able to realize a two to five percent reduction in health care cost trend are gaining significant savings in total health expenditures,” said Hall. “But equally significant is our finding that two-thirds of U.S. employers have not measured the impact of their wellness programs on health cost savings. Worldwide, where other business objectives such as reducing absence and improving productivity are valued more highly, 40 to 60 percent of organizations are not measuring the impact of their wellness programs and therefore don’t know the extent of the benefits.”

Incentive rewards have increased 45 percent since Buck’s prior survey in 2007. U.S. respondents spend an average of $145 per employee per year on wellness incentive rewards, up from an average of $100 last year. Twelve percent of U.S. respondents spend more than $500 per employee per year. Such incentives, designed to improve employee participation and engagement in wellness program activities, are more prevalent in the U.S., but are offered by employers in all parts of the world.

Only 19 percent of respondents rated their incentive rewards “extremely effective” or “significantly effective” at changing employees’ behaviors, although this is up from 16 percent last year. However, employers’ continued expansion of incentive rewards indicates a strong belief in their effectiveness at changing behaviors.

Additional wellness issues covered by Buck’s global survey include program ownership, global design components, employee feedback, and communications.

Buck Consultants is hosting a complimentary one-hour webcast on the survey results on October 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm eastern time. To register visit: http://www.buckconsultants.com or http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=51626

Buck Consultants, an ACS company, is a leader in human resource and benefits consulting with more than 1,500 professionals worldwide. Founded in 1916 to advise clients in establishing and funding some of the nation’s first public and private retirement programs, Buck is an innovator in the areas of retirement benefits, health and wellness programs, human capital management, and employee communication. News and other information about Buck Consultants are available at http://www.buckconsultants.com. Buck is an independent subsidiary of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.

ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with 65,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company's Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ACS." Learn more about ACS at http://www.acs-inc.com.

vielife has been in operation since 1988 to help improve individual and organizational performance and health. vielife's mission is to be a global leader in the critical task of transforming the way individuals, employers, health plans and governments manage physical and emotional well-being. In 2005, vielife was awarded the Institute for Health & Productivity Management (IHPM) President's Award. For more information, please visit http://www.vielife.com.

Wolf Kirsten International Health Consulting helps international corporations, organizations, and governments improve the quality of life of their respective population through innovative, culturally appropriate, and cost-effective health promotion programs. International Health Consulting is based in Berlin, Germany, and calls upon a global network of health promotion experts. More information is available at http://www.wolfkirsten.com.

WorldatWork (http://www.worldatwork.org) is a global human resources association focused on compensation, benefits, work-life and integrated total rewards to attract, motivate and retain a talented workforce. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork provides a network of more than 30,000 members and professionals in 75 countries with training, certification, research, conferences and community. It has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Washington, D.C.

The survey report, “WORKING WELL: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” is available to the media by contacting Ed Gadowski at 201-902-2825. It is available to other interested parties for $150 from Buck’s Global Survey Resources, 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ, 07096-1533. Telephone 1-800-887-0509. It also can be ordered online at http://www.bucksurveys.com.

Media Contacts:

Ed Gadowski
Manager, Media Relations
Buck Consultants, LLC
201-902-2825
edward.gadowski @ buckconsultants.com

Carol DeMatteo
Director, Corporate Communications
Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
214-841-8110
carol.dematteo @ acs-inc.com

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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