Employers implement health and wellness programs to improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, improve health outcomes, and offer benefits that appeal to both current and prospective employees.

Taking on the Challenges:

One of the most common challenges associated with workplace wellness programs is the difficulty of motivating employees to participate in program offerings. Barriers to employee participation include:

Lack of Interest

Inconvenient Locations

Insufficient Incentives

Time Limitations

Take Action:

To improve the health and wellness of individuals, employers should implement comprehensive health and wellness programs for employees that address the following needs, and they should begin tracking and sharing outcomes to promote learning and improvement:

Nutrition and physical activity, Tobacco cessation, Emotional and behavioral health and Condition management, including chronic disease management

Immediate Term

  1. Broadly share strategies and best practices for addressing common challenges—such as employee engagement—to assist with successful implementation among employers, and share the impact of various strategies on health outcomes, costs, productivity, absenteeism, employee motivation, and employee satisfaction

Near Term


  1. Prioritize and accelerate the adoption of comprehensive health and wellness programs that address the following needs:
  • Nutrition and weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking cessation
  • Emotional and behavioral health, including stress management and depression
  • Condition management, including chronic disease management
  1. Leverage the use of electronic and social media tools to increase accessibility of, interest in, ease of use of, and adoption of health and wellness programs:
  • Online educational resources and programs
  • Interactive tracking tools, such as those that track medications
  • Self-monitoring tools, including those that connect with personal devices
  • Online communities to provide peer support
  • Online “coaches” to increase accessibility of support
  • Patient access to information contained in electronic health records
  1. Implement incentives to increase employee adoption of health and wellness programs
  2. Modify benefit design to encourage preventive activities
  3. Make preventive activities, such as screening and immunization, more accessible by bringing them on-site periodically
  4. Support a smoke-free workplace
  5. Begin tracking and sharing specific outcomes of health and wellness programs, including those related to health outcomes, costs, productivity, absenteeism, and employee satisfaction to facilitate learning and improvement. In the first year, strive to use common metrics such as the following, building in additional metrics over time:
  • Biometric measures:
    • Blood glucose levels
    • Blood pressure levels
    • Cholesterol levels
    • Obesity
  • Behavioral measures
    • Nutrition
    • Physical activity
    • Tobacco use
  • Emotional and behavioral health measures
    • Stress
    • Depression

Long Term

  1. Collaborate with other employers in the evaluation of health and wellness program to contribute to the evidence base and advance effective implementation in the field

An increasingly unhealthy population not only leads to a decreased quality of life and premature death and disability for American citizens, it also threatens the ability of U.S. businesses to compete in a global marketplace.

Featured Strategies

Mark T. Bertolini

Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President, Aetna

Aetna is improving the health and wellness of individuals through:

A voluntary metabolic screening program and an evidence-based online program designed to reduce or reverse the risk factors associated with Metabolic Syndrome, demonstrating significant improvements in risk factors, stress levels, and work productivity

Use of health-related mobile applications to empower consumers and make accessing health care and health information more convenient and personalized

Innovative programs that use mindfulness and yoga to help the workforce manage stress, demonstrating reductions in stress levels and improvements in productivity

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Brian T. Moynihan

Chairman and CEO, Bank of America Corporation

Bank of America Corporation has significantly exceeded national average employee-participation results in workplace wellness programs. More than 211,000 employees and spouses/partners completed 2014 wellness activities and more than 96,000 employees enrolled in the organization’s 2013 physical activity challenge.

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Scott P. Serota

President and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies have designed a variety of strategies to increase engagement of individuals (both their own employees and those of their account customers) in their health and wellness, with positive results. Some proven strategies include:
■ Combining participation-based and outcomes-based incentives, resulting in significant cost avoidance and improved health outcomes
■ Providing personalized customer support to help ensure informed decision-making, resulting in considerable cost savings
■ Embedding employee-engagement methods into health benefit product design, so that incentives for health and wellness are not a separate program but an integral part of coverage.

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Alex Gorsky

Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson

It is no secret that J&J strives to have the world’s healthiest workforce, as often stated by CEOs both past and present. This commitment, from the highest level, allows for an upfront investment to support this vision. J&J’s evolving strategy is to use its health programs to embed health into the culture, all the while emphasizing leadership commitment, health education, and an environment that supports healthy choices and local initiatives. J&J also integrates key aspects of occupational health, wellness, fitness, personal energy management, employee assistance (mental well-being), and work life effectiveness.

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Dominic Barton

Managing Director, McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company recognizes the importance of rooting strategy in deep knowledge of its employee population and making programs available that promote general health and wellness and respond to targeted cost and care needs.

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Muhtar Kent

Former Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company’s health and wellness strategy focuses on personalized support, social engagement, and shifting to a culture of well-being. Coca-Cola embraces the creativity of its employees to develop new, innovative approaches and embraces a culture change that begins with its leaders, who are role models.

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Lowell C. McAdam

Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications is engaging and empowering its employees by providing 100 percent preventive care coverage and easy access to healthy living information as well as interactive support tools and programs that help individuals manage their chronic conditions, with positive results in both participation and health outcomes. Health screening program results are showing positive improvement in high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risk.

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Gregory D. Wasson

Former President and CEO, Walgreens

The Walgreen Co. is lowering the barriers to preventive care by offering vaccines and biometric screening free-of-charge to employees and encouraging preventive visits. Walgreens is also offering chronic condition management and wellness coaching. Walgreens’ programs have resulted in reductions in health risk scores and considerable cost savings.

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Find out how you can share your business’ health care initiatives

Make A Commitment
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