Multinationals See Workforce Health as a Higher Priority in Next Few Years, Survey Finds


The survey also found that wellness programs have become prevalent worldwide as more multinationals promote health and well-being.

New York — May 17

Faced with rising health care costs and a growing concern over the health of their employees, a majority of multinational organizations plan to place a higher priority on workforce health initiatives and the overall well-being of their workers over the next few years, according to a new survey by Towers Watson, a professional services company. The survey also found that wellness programs have become prevalent worldwide as more multinationals promote health and well-being.

The Towers Watson survey found that three out of four companies said workforce health and promoting health and well-being will be more of a priority this year and next, while 87 percent said it will be a higher priority over the next two to four years. To address this growing priority, nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) plan to implement a global workforce health strategy over the next two years. Currently, less than one-third (32 percent) of multinationals have a global workforce health strategy in place.

“Given the variety of health systems and market practices around the world, and the significant differences in costs for employers to sponsor health plans, the need for a global workforce health strategy has never been greater,” said Francis Coleman, a senior international consultant with Towers Watson. “Multinationals with a clear strategy can better coordinate local health activities to improve their overall workforce health and increase the efficiency of their total spending on health care.”

When asked to rank the three most important objectives for their health strategy, more than half (54 percent) of all respondents said it was to demonstrate their continued interest in employee well-being, resiliency and stress management, while slightly fewer (52 percent) said it was to help control rising health costs. 

There were, however, significant differences by regions. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of multinationals headquartered in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region ranked employee well-being and stress management in the top three. By contrast, 62 percent of Asia-headquartered respondents ranked providing competitive rewards among the top three objectives. Fifty-nine percent of North American companies (primarily U.S.-based) listed controlling costs in the top three.

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