Employers cite productivity, morale gains among ROI from health programs

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of U.S. employers have experienced a return on investment on their efforts to boost employee health and performance, according to a new survey published by global insurance brokerage Hub International.

When it came to the positive impacts, 35 per cent of respondents reported improved productivity and 34 per cent cited improved morale. But the survey, which polled 400 senior-level human resources and finance executives at mid-sized U.S. organizations, found that other key benchmarks in the area are lagging, including employee turnover (21 per cent), absenteeism (18 per cent) and chronic disease management (16 per cent).

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Despite the fact that 2016 is the first year for reporting and audits under the Affordable Care Act, only 58 per cent of respondents ranked compliance with the legislation as a top priority, behind 83 per cent who favoured employee wellness and productivity improvements and 76 per cent who said cost management was the their biggest concern.

“ACA, also known as the Affordable Care Act, is the U.S.’s major benefits legislation launched six years ago by President Obama,” says Linda Keller, national chief operating officer of employee benefits at Hub International.

“While not in place for Canada, Canadian companies doing business in the U.S. are directly affected by this legislation. The same concerns about ACA that we uncovered in the HUB study of U.S. HR and finance executives to be compliant with this legislation will be similarly felt by Canadian companies with employees in the U.S.”

Respondents also stressed the importance of collaboration between departments, with 78 per cent of finance executives considering human resources to be a strategic partner.

Read: Why you should involve the board in employee benefits

However, 97 per cent of finance executives who responded to the survey said they have “significant concerns” about benefits costs, human resource missteps with executive liability (93 per cent) and Affordable Care Act audits (88 per cent).

Across all respondents, 65 per cent said that they had done all they can to “rein in costs,” but the survey found few organizations were actually leveraging cost-management strategies.

“Taking a long-term, strategic approach to employee benefits is key to achieving cost management, compliance and employee productivity goals,” said Mike Barone, president of Hub International. “HR and finance leaders are operating in an era of unprecedented disruption — brought on by ACA compliance, rising health-care costs and the increasing demands of a multi-generational workforce.”

Read: Half of U.S. workers say their job affects their overall health: research