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Wellness and productivity top priorities for group plan sponsors

par Andrew Rickard | July 21 2016 01:29PM

A study conducted by HUB International reveals that small- and medium-sized employers are most interested in employee wellness, productivity, and managing benefit costs.

HUB released its Employee Benefits Barometer on July 19. The consulting firm surveyed 400 senior human resource and finance executives in the United States who work at companies with 50 to 1,000 employees about how their employee benefit strategies were performing. When asked to identify their top benefits priorities (respondents could give more than one answer), HR executives ranked improving employee wellness and productivity (83%), and managing benefit costs (76%) as their top two priorities.

Improved employee productivity

The report reveals that two thirds of respondents are now seeing a return on the investment they have made in their wellness programs, specifically in improved employee productivity and morale.

"Middle market employers are starting to put more effort in longer term benefits initiatives that support the connection between healthy employees and business performance," notes HUB. "These programs are the cornerstone of a long-term benefit strategy that supports a healthier and more engaged workforce."

When it comes to managing rising health care costs, HUB says employers are moving away from a reactionary, tactical approach and are implementing longer-term solutions. "Plan changes and other cost-cutting tactics are being evaluated in the context of a multi-year planning process, which a resounding majority – 86% – have put in place."

High deductible health plans

What new steps are employers taking to save money? The survey found that 51% of the respondents will be implementing voluntary benefits for the first time in the next 12 to 18 months as part of their cost savings strategy, while 39% are introducing a spectrum of plan options (e.g., bronze, silver or gold), and another 39% will try using a high deductible health plan.

"While the majority of employers believe they are doing everything they can to manage costs, in reality, they could be more proactive in leveraging proven solutions," concludes HUB.

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