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More employers are offering wellness programs than ever before. This year, close to half of the 1,977 business decision-makers surveyed in the Aflac WorkForces Report said they offer a company-sponsored wellness program, which is up from 30 percent in 2012. Insurance brokers noted a similar trend, and just over half (53 percent) agree1 they regularly recommend wellness programs to their clients.


Not only are more businesses turning to wellness programs, but the study found that employers and brokers may also be becoming more effective when executing wellness initiatives. Over half of employers that offer wellness programs (53 percent) believe their program is effective,2 which is up 7 percentage points compared to 2014. And nearly 4 in 10 brokers (39 percent) agree1 they have helped clients lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness programs, which is an increase of five percentage points compared to 2013 and 2014 (34 percent).


Wellness programs influence employee satisfaction

One advantage to having a wellness program is the influence it can have on employee satisfaction. Of those with wellness programs, 3 in 4 employers agree their programs improve worker satisfaction. And employees who participate in their companies’ wellness programs are more satisfied3 in their jobs (70 percent vs. 59 percent) and with their benefits packages (66 percent vs. 58 percent) than those who don’t participate in their companies’ programs. What’s more, employees whose companies offer wellness programs are less likely4 to look for new jobs in the next 12 months than those without wellness programs (46 percent vs. 52 percent).


What are successful programs doing differently?

Wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes, but not all programs are successful with helping companies offer lower premiums to their employees. Surprisingly, the study found that the most popular program components may not be the most effective. For instance, although few companies with wellness programs offer an on-site doctor or nurse (17 percent), over half of those that do (65 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program. On the other hand, over half of employers with a wellness program offer Employee Assistance Programs (54 percent), but just half of these (51 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program (see Chart 1).



Chart 1: An employer’s ability to lower premiums varies by type of wellness program offered


Employers with wellness programs that include the following components:

Ratio of those employers who agree5 they’ve been able to lower premiums as a result of their wellness program

On-site doctor or nurse



Wellness screenings



Healthy eating incentives



Smoking cessation programs



Preventive care programs



Company events such as fun runs



Stress management programs



Health fairs



On-site gym or discounted gym membership



Employee assistance program




Well-rounded benefits + communications = employee engagement

Wellness programs may boast higher engagement when paired with other work site perks and strong communications strategies. The study found that wellness program participation is higher among employers that offer financial guidance and education, voluntary benefits and flexible scheduling. It’s also higher among companies that have increased the frequency of benefits communications in the past year (see Chart 2). Having multiple options may boost communications opportunities and awareness overall, which can be amplified when an employer works to communicate frequently about their benefits programs.


Chart 2: Employee participation in wellness programs is higher among companies with stronger benefits communication



Employee participates

Employee doesn’t participate

Employer only communicates about benefits at open enrollment and new hire



Frequency of benefits communication increased in the past year



Employer communicates too little about employee benefits



Employer communicates the right amount about employee benefits




This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.




About the study

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted in January and February 2015 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,977 benefits decision-makers and 5,337 employees from across the United States. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit

The Broker Survey was conducted online within the United States between January 20, 2015, and February 10, 2015, among 306 insurance brokers or producers employed at a company with three or more employees. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

1 Completely or strongly agree

2 Extremely or very effective

3 Extremely or very satisfied

4 Extremely, very or somewhat likely

5 Somewhat or strongly agree


Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Z150527R                                                                                                                                                                                12/15

Robb-Hilson3.pngBy Robb Hilson, Bank of America Small Business Executive


In today’s ultra-competitive business landscape, hiring the right talent is a vital part of growing, running and maintaining a successful business. This is especially crucial for small business owners, who typically have very streamlined organizations. In our daily interactions with small business owners, we’ve seen optimism about the economy and an inclination to hire and retain the right employees.  According to a recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), a majority of entrepreneurs (53 percent) are confident the national economy will improve over the next 12 months – up a staggering 22 percentage points from just six months earlier.  Similarly, small business owners’ confidence in their local economy improving jumped to 51 percent from 37 percent in fall 2016.


Though small business owners are excited about their prospects for growth, bringing in—and hanging on to—top-tier talent can be challenging. As the modern workplace continues to evolve, small business owners must adapt to their environment to avoid falling behind in the technology they use or the benefits they offer employees. Recently, I participated in a Google Hangout with Alexandra Levit, a workplace expert, and USA Today columnist Steve Strauss to discuss how the small business workplace is evolving, and how small business owners are adapting. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:


  1. Develop a talent strategy. Hiring should never be done on the fly. Take the time to assess your needs and find employees who can round out your team by building on your strengths and fixing your weaknesses. Consider working with potential employees in a freelance or part-time capacity before you hire them, and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your company’s goals.

  2. Be flexible with your employees’ needs. Building the right culture is essential—happy employees create happy customers. You should also keep in mind the different attitudes and priorities of employees from a variety of generations. According to the SBOR, small business owners are now offering all types of creative perks like areas to relax and unwind (20 percent) and pet-friendly environments (11 percent). At the end of day, making your employees feel like their ideas are valued and their opinions are heard is the most important thing you can do.

  3. Make technology your ally. Technology can be a windfall for your business and employees. Giving employees the option to telecommute can make their lives easier and their work better—54 percent of the small business owners we surveyed believe their employees are more productive when they have the option to work from home. And, when it comes to bringing new technology into your business, don’t get overwhelmed with all the technological options out there—speak to your team and find the right mix for your business.

According to the Fall 2015 Small Business Owner Report, more entrepreneurs than ever are feeling optimistic about the future of their businesses. They are hiring more, planning growth strategies and looking ahead in big ways.  In the face of all this growth, however, a continuous concern among small business owners is having good talent – and keeping it. In order to retain the talent that keeps their businesses running, it’s important that small business owners adjust to emerging workplace trends, like adopting new technologies and offering unconventional employee perks.


This month’s installment of Bank of America’s Small Business Social Series will discuss how small business owners can increase employee retention and productivity through changes to the workplace environment.



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