More American workers recognize the rewards of participating in workplace wellness programs, according to the latest survey from Principal Financial. Sixty-two percent of workers, up from 55% in 2011, believe workplace wellness activities are successful in improving health and reducing health risks.

By taking advantage of workplace wellness offerings, American employees are approaching their work with more energy and motivation. Fifty-one percent of respondents feel wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better, and another 59% of program participants say they have more energy to be productive at work as a result of their participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs.

“As wellness programs become more established in the workplace, we are seeing a growing number of employees appreciate – and expect – that their employer offers these benefits,” says Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of the Principal Financial Group. “In the wake of the financial crisis, which has left many companies stretched thin, maintaining a productive workforce is a priority for organizations.”

Nearly half (45%) of employees agree that an employer-sponsored wellness program would encourage them to stay in their current employment situation, up from 40% in 2011. Additionally, 43% of participants say wellness programs have led them to miss fewer days of work, up 8% from 2011. Despite the apparent benefits, about a third (34%) of workers still do not participate in any of the wellness programs offered by their employers.

Participants also cited an increase in the following employer incentives:

  • 17%, up from 9% the previous year, say their employer offers contributions into a health savings account or health reimbursement account.
  • 16% up from 12% the previous year, say their employer provides other financial incentives such as gift certificates or discounts for those who participate.
  • 10%, up from 6% the previous year, report that their employer rewards additional paid time off from work to participants.

“It’s in every employer’s interest to have healthier, happier, more productive employees,” Dukes says. “Employers have to do more than offer wellness programs; in order to see the benefits, they have to incent participation.”

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