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After decades of focusing on well-being programs’ impact on cost savings, employers today are realizing programs may also affect less tangible, but no less important, engagement metrics such as employee attitudes, loyalty, productivity, recruitment and retention.

In partnership with National Business Group on Health® (NBGH), Optum® surveyed 1,200 full-time employees from large U.S. employers (3,000+ employees) about their levels of engagement at work. Then, we asked them about their access to, and participation in, a variety of well-being program categories.


The results determined that having the opportunity to access and participate in employer-sponsored well-being programs significantly impacts key markers of engagement in addition to business value outcomes like employer loyalty and job performance.

  1. Emotional affinity
  2. Personal well-being
  3. Social connections
  4. Supportive culture
  5. Job performance
  6. Employer loyalty

Are employees and employers aligned in their perceptions about workplace well-being?

Study results reveal that employee and employer perceptions about well-being programs differ greatly.

Results were compared between employer responses on the Optum Wellness in the Workplace Study and employee responses on the Consumer Engagement Study:

  • 88 percent of employers say they take a genuine interest in employee well-being, but only 43 percent of employees agreed



Despite these differences of opinion, 81 percent of employees think it is important that employers support their well-being by offering health and wellness programs in the workplace.

And based on survey results, programs that garner the most employee interest include those that focus on wellness and prevention, such as gym membership discounts, on-site/worksite fitness centers and flu shot clinics.



Does access to programs increase engagement?

Compared to employees whose employer offers zero health and wellness programs, those who are offered 7–8 program categories are:

  • 117 percent more likely to be satisfied with their job
  • 178 percent more confident in navigating the health care system
  • 57 percent more likely to continue working for their employer

Takeaway: Having access to health and well-being programs is a significant driver of both the markers and business value of employee engagement.



Does participation increase engagement?

Compared to those who say they never participate in health and wellness programs (even though they have the option), those who participate frequently are:

  • 88 percent more likely to feel valued by their employer
  • 18 percent more likely to take responsibility for their health and well-being
  • 45 percent more likely to rate their work performance as higher than co-workers

Takeaway: Employees who frequently participate in programs demonstrate markers of engagement like emotional affinity and generate business value through strong job performance. 



Do some programs drive greater engagement?

The top three program categories with the greatest impact on employee engagement are: chronic condition management; a physical work environment that supports healthy decisions; and programs that help people get the most value out of their prescription drug plan.

programs impacted by employee engagement

view infographic



This study demonstrated a strong connection between employer-sponsored health and well-being programs and measures of engagement. When employees feel emotionally engaged, connected, productive and loyal to their employers, imagine the impact on business results.





1. NBGH/Fidelity 8th Annual Employer Sponsored Health & Well-being Study, 2017.
2. Optum Wellness in the Workplace” Study, 2016. Large/jumbo employers.