If you noticed HR people at your place of business looking a bit queasy in recent days it may be because they read the findings of a new RAND Corporation study, which found popular employee wellness programs do not actually result in employers saving money.
The programs, which focus on helping employees adopt healthier lifestyle choices, have been touted as a means to reduce sick days, increase productivity and ward off major (costly) illnesses.
The study's authors based their conclusions on a review of a 67,000 people who were eligible to participate in PepsiCo's "Healthy Living" program over a seven-year period. RAND's researchers examined both the lifestyle component of the program as well as disease management. The conclusion, published in the journal, Health Affairs, was that while healthcare costs were down $30 month for participants, virtually all of the savings were directly connected to disease management, which led to a 29 percent reduction in hospital admissions.
"Cutting one hospital admission saves a lot of money," Soeren Mattke, the study's senior author, told The New York Times.
Maria Ghazal, a vice president of the Business Roundtable, told Reuters that its members are "as enthusiastic as they have ever been about these programs." Ms. Ghazal said the programs not only help control costs but help in employee recruitment and retention.
How likely would you be to advocate corporate wellness plans, if asked?