The percentage of employees who agree their organization’s corporate culture encourages health and wellness has dropped in the past five years to 53 per in 2017 from 62 per cent in 2012, according to the 2017 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

Among employers, 64 per cent feel their corporate culture encourages wellness, although that’s still a drop from 90 per cent of those who said that in the 2012 survey.

“These are surprising drops for both plan members and plan sponsors, at a time when more employers are recognizing the role that workplace culture plays to set the foundation for health, from the organizational level right down to the member level,” says Jennifer Elia, assistant vice-president of client experience and integrated health solutions at Sun Life Financial and a member of the survey’s advisory board.

Read: Sanofi survey finds drop in employee satisfaction with health benefits plan

Employee and employer views differ when it comes to the availability of wellness programs: 38 per cent of employees said their employer offers one and 51 per cent of employers said they do. Among plan members, 17 per cent said they don’t know if wellness programs are available.

Fewer than a third (31 per cent) of plan sponsors plan to invest more in health education or wellness programs in the next year. That’s down from 51 per cent in 2012 and 68 per cent in 2011. Advisory board member Jonathan Avery, director of product, group benefits at Manulife, said the findings align with what the organization has seen among its customer base. “Some simply do not believe they should play a role in the wellness of their members beyond the benefits they currently offer. The other camp does believe it’s their role and commit the time and/or funding.”

Read: How three Canadian companies are making employee health and wellness a priority

According to the survey, the top three wellness activities offered by employers speak more to the creation of a wellness culture: human resources policies, such as employee engagement surveys and harassment policies (52 per cent); flexible work arrangements (44 per cent); and healthy work spaces that address such factors as ergonomics and lighting (42 per cent).

The most common tangible wellness programs offered are flu shots at work (36 per cent), discounts for external gym memberships or fitness classes (28 per cent), an on-site fitness centre or gym (21 per cent) and online health risk assessments (23 per cent). One-fifth of plan sponsors provide healthy foods and snacks and organize health-related challenges or goals.

Employer respondents were also asked which wellness initiatives they consider the most successful. The top answers were flexible working arrangements (39 per cent), human resources policies (34 per cent), healthy workspaces (29 per cent) and on-site flu shots (26 per cent).

Read more stories from the 2017 Sanofi Canada health-care survey

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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