Over the last 5 years, benefits that reward employees for improving their health have jumped – a sign that organizations recognize that their employees value these benefits and are looking for ways to cut business costs. For example, the percentage of employers offering health and lifestyle coaching jumped from 33 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2012, and rewards or bonuses for completing a health and wellness program increased from 23 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2012.

“Employers recognize that providing employees with the opportunity to improve their health can increase morale, confidence and productivity,” said Mark J. Schmit, vice president of research at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Organizations continue to look for ways to manage costs as the economy slowly improves. Benefits that encourage healthier behavior are a cost effective way to keep up employee morale, while healthier employees also help decrease healthcare costs to employers and employees.”

SHRM’s 2012 Employee Benefits Survey found that while most employee benefits stabilized this year, 73 percent of HR professionals reported that the economic downtown negatively impacted employee benefit offerings (11 percent to a large extent and 62 percent to some extent). This is more or less the same as in 2011, when 77 percent said the economy negatively affected benefits to some or a large extent.