Iowans who work for large employers are much more likely to have access to wellness programs than those who work for smaller organizations, according to results of the Capital Crossroads 2012 Wellness & Community Study released Wednesday. However, only about half of employees in organizations that offer wellness programs -- regardless of the companies’ size -- actually use them, the survey found.

Approximately 15 percent of Iowa employers – more than 18,000 organizations -- currently offer some type of wellness program to their employees, according to the results of the survey conducted for the Wellness Capital, a component of the Capital Crossroads initiative.

“Two of the biggest barriers cited by those businesses not currently offering a plan were the knowledge and resources necessary to begin,” Wellness Capital Co-Chair Laura Jackson said in a release.

About 900 companies responded to the survey, which was conducted in the summer of 2012, for a response rate of nearly 20 percent.

The availability of wellness programs to working Iowans varies greatly by employer size, the survey found. Nearly 94 percent of organizations with 1,000 or more employees said they offered at least one wellness program, while just 13 percent of organizations with fewer than 10 employees had access to at least one type of wellness program. According to a 2010 National Compensation Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 30 percent of U.S. employees had access to wellness programs in 2010, up from about 25 percent in 2005.
The factors that Iowa businesses identified as most critical to a program’s success were management support and a strong internal champion. And the most popular programs were those that included some kind of competition within the organization and offered incentives such as gift cards or additional paid time off.

Among the companies that did not offer any wellness programs, the main reasons given were “too expensive” or “no budget,” as well as “no management support.” Larger organizations were more than twice as likely as smaller organizations to cite cost factors as a hurdle to offering programs.