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2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© is Now Available!

2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©The 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© overall summary is now available! As we have done with recent studies, we are providing this summary report through an electronic download only, rather than a printed hard copy.

The press release for this Study will be issued tomorrow, August 8.

As mentioned in a previous blog, we had 999 Iowa organizations participate in this year’s survey, reaching our goal of 1,000 respondents. In addition to the standard benefit questions presented each year, we asked organizations to share data on whether work-life and convenience benefits were offered by Iowa organizations, benefits that are highly-valued by employees.

If your organization participated in this year’s survey, we sincerely thank you for sharing your data with us and for your patience while the report was being published. We realize that many employers wish to use the results of this important Study during the fall enrollment process. On July 10th, participants in this Study were sent an email from us with a unique link to gain access to this report (at no cost).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Again, we greatly appreciate your interest in this 20th study!

To stay abreast of employee benefits, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

Coming Soon! 20th Iowa Employer Benefits Study©

Coming Soon! 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©We are very pleased that about 1,000 Iowa employers have responded to our 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©! This number met our goal of having at least 1,000 organizations participate in our 20th survey. The results of this study will be available Wednesday, August 7th.

As we prepare to release our 20th Study, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The Overall Summary of the 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© will be available for download from our website.
    • Employers who participated in the 2019 Survey were sent an email on July 10 to download this report using a specific pass code.
    • Employers who did not participate in the 2019 Survey will be able to download this Overall Summary for a small fee.

We have also updated our benchmarking program – Lindex®  allowing employers to compare their specific benefit offerings with other Iowa employers. Lindex® was developed with simplicity and intuitiveness in mind. In addition to learning how your benefits package compares with other Iowa organizations (using pertinent criteria such as employer size and industry), employers will be able to learn their individual Lindex® score and how their total benefits package compares to Iowa norms. There are some very sophisticated aspects about this benchmark program that will be extremely helpful to employers of all size and industry!

Our 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© and/or Lindex® benchmarking program will be available for purchase beginning August 7. You will be able to purchase the Study on this website.

How can employers determine their Lindex® score?

You can either contact DPLB to learn more or visit with your authorized-benefits consultant to develop your Lindex® score. If your consultant does not currently participate in the Lindex® program, have them contact DPLB to learn how!

An easy way to stay informed is to subscribe to this blog.

Wellness Programs – New Study Confirms Cautioned Approach

During the past seven years, I have written a fair number of posts regarding wellness programs offered by employers. The core message of all blogs suggests that employers must have realistic expectations about what wellness initiatives will or will not do within the workplace.

A recent randomized clinical study published in JAMA is yet another reminder for employers to have tepid expectations when trying to keep their employees happy, healthy and less likely to incur more health costs. The study found that workplace wellness programs do not cut healthcare costs for employers, reduce absenteeism or improve the health of employees.

From the University of Chicago and Harvard, researchers used a large-scale approach that was peer-reviewed and included a more sophisticated design when analyzing BJ’s Wholesale Clubs. BJ’s has about 33,000 employees across 160 clubs. This analysis compared 20 randomly-assigned clubs that offered wellness programs with 140 BJ’s clubs that did not.

After 18 months of timeline analysis, this study revealed that wellness programs did not result in health measure differences, such as: improved blood sugar or glucose levels, reduced healthcare costs or absenteeism, or impacted job performance in a positive manner. In other words, employees with a wellness program did not experience reduced healthcare costs and other desired affects. I suppose one could argue that a year and one half was not enough comparison time to develop these conclusions.

One of the authors of this study, Katherine Baicker, dean of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, put it quite succinctly in a Kaiser Health News article: “[But] if employers are offering these programs in hopes that health spending and absenteeism will go down, this study should give them pause.”

What are your expectations about workplace wellness? Do you believe such programs, when appropriately and thoughtfully implemented, will greatly mitigate your healthcare costs, improve workforce productivity and reduce absenteeism? Maybe you feel these programs are a waste. From our 2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study, employers shared their perceived ‘return on investment’ on the programs they currently had in place.

According to a 2013 “Workplace Wellness Programs Study” by researchers at the RAND Corporation, these programs only have a modest effect. This runs contrary to claims made by wellness firms that sell workplace wellness programs to employers. The report found that people who participate in wellness initiatives lose an average of only one pound a year for three years. Another finding is that employee participation in such plans “was not associated with significant reductions in total cholesterol level.” Smoking-cessation programs show some potential, but only “in the short term.”

Most likely, both skeptics and supporters of wellness initiatives will find ammunition to support their cause. Workplace wellness programs have grown to an $8 billion industry in the U.S., primarily as a direct result of rising employer health insurance costs.

This latest report may help stabilize any pre-conceived lofty expectations each of us may have about the benefits of workplace wellness programs. However, it must be noted that some employers have found value in these programs.

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.