Only 9 Percent of Employees Participate in Corporate Wellness Programs

Few employees take advantage of corporate wellness programs even though one-quarter are aware that their employers offer them, according to a new Harris Interactive poll.

The poll, conducted for the Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition found that While one-quarter of the employed U.S. adults surveyed believe their employers offer some kind of wellness program to help them stay healthy, only 9 percent say they actually participate in programs addressing exercise (5 percent), weight loss (2 percent), diet and nutrition (2 percent), and stopping smoking (less than (.5 percent).

Despite the low numbers of respondents who say they actually take advantage of wellness programs, substantial numbers say they are aware of wellness programs that their employers offer: alcohol or drug abuse assistance programs (17 percent), psychological and family counseling (16 percent), exercise programs (14 percent), help or counseling for those with health or medical problems (14 percent), programs to help people stop smoking (13 percent), and diet and nutritional programs (11 percent).

Virtually all (of those who participate in wellness programs say they find them very helpful (44 percent) or somewhat helpful (55 percent).

"For wellness programs to make much impact on the health of employees, corporate America needs to greatly increase the number of employers who offer them and the level of employee participation," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll® at Harris Interactive.

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