In The Worksite

Engagement in Well-being Programs Strongly Linked to Greater Employee Loyalty

How employee pride, and engagement, builds a more positive work experience

New research from Optum, a leading information and technology-enabled health services business

January 09, 2019 — EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Employees who actively participate in employer-sponsored health and wellness programs are much more likely to be proud to work for their employer and promote their company to others as a great place to work, according to Optum research released today.

Based on a survey of more than 1,200 full-time employees at companies with at least 3,000 employees, providing a physical work environment that supports healthy decisions and participation in wellness programs are associated with reporting a positive work experience.


  • Nearly half (48 percent) of workers who frequently participate in health and wellness programs are extremely likely to recommend their employer as a place to work. This is compared with 29 percent of those who never participate in such programs and 18 percent of employees at companies not offering such programs.
  • Employees who had access to seven to eight health and wellness programs were one-and-a-half-times more likely to continue working for their current employer and were three-times more likely to recommend their employer as a place to work compared to workers with no access to such programs. Health and wellness program categories include tools that help them assess their health, biometric screenings, access to wellness coaching, having onsite medical clinics, disease case management programs and fitness challenges, among others.

Disengaged Employees Can Be Costly

“Disengaged employees can be costly both to an employer’s bottom line and to employee morale,” said Seth Serxner, chief health officer of Optum. “While there are many programs and initiatives employers can offer to help improve employees’ morale, our analysis shows that participation in relevant and easily accessible well-being programs may be overlooked by some employers.”

The analysis conducted by Optum was based on a metric known as the Employee Net Promoter Score* (eNPS), which helps businesses measure employees’ experience with their companies. The eNPS metric asks, “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work?” Employees were also asked about their access to, and participation in, a variety of well-being programs.

“Ultimately, simply offering multiple programs is not enough,” Serxner added. “Employers need to have the right mix of initiatives to optimize engagement. Based on our research, program participation has three-times the impact on eNPS than just access alone.”

“Engagement in health and wellness programs translates to greater employee loyalty, which can significantly contribute to productivity and a stronger bottom line for employers,” said John Holcomb, Optum president of Population Health Solutions.

Excerpts from the Optum white-paper: Boost Employee Net Promoter Score® With Health and Well-Being Programs

How do you measure engagement?
Measuring customer and employee engagement is critical to catalyzing business growth. One metric that helps businesses know if they are sufficiently customer-centric is the Net Promoter Score (NPS®). NPS is the gold-standard metric for businesses to gauge the experience their customers have with their brand. NPS determines how likely those customers are to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague. Harvard Business Review called it “the one number you need to grow.” A similar metric exists for employee experience: the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). A variant of the NPS method, eNPS helps businesses measure employees’ experience with their company. eNPS is based on a similar question to the core NPS measure. Based upon their answers to the eNPS question, employees are categorized as promoters, passives or detractors.

Disengaged employees can be costly both to an employer’s bottom line and to employee morale...

The Employee Net Promoter Score: A key metric for employee engagement
Customers can be hard to please, but employees can be even more difficult. eNPS scores can be lower — by a substantial margin — than customer NPS. It’s easy to see why. Employees have 40-plus hours per week of experience with their employers. Their standard of living is largely controlled by where they work and the opportunities their job affords. Therefore, employees often hold the business that employs them to a higher standard than would the business’s customers. Employees do have advantages. Competition for good workers is fierce, and workers are moving from employer to employer more than ever. More than 20 percent of employees have switched firms in the last year, while more than half of employees are looking for another job. But employees in general are less engaged today. Less than one out of five employees are enthusiastic about their future with their employer, while only one of three employees would recommend their company to a friend. A mere one of four employees would reapply for their current jobs.

The difference between employee promoters and employee detractors
If promoters and detractors participate differently in health and well-being programs, might they also be different in terms of their overall health? Optum research found variation in metrics for work-related health and well-being among promoters and detractors. Detractors report more stress than promoters. When we asked how stressors at home or work caused their concentration or productivity to suffer, 65 percent of detractors reported work-related emotional stress, while 49 percent of detractors reported co-worker/manager relationship stress and 38 percent reported financial worries

On the other hand, promoters are significantly more likely than detractors to participate in health and wellness programs, and they’re more likely to report employer support for their well-being. Promoters are also more engaged in their health care, they’re happiest with their workplace relationships and culture, and they’re more productive. It’s unclear from the research whether health and wellness programs create promoters out of passive or detractor employees or whether they simply attract employees who are typically promoters. But one conclusion is clear: employees of businesses with a full complement of health and wellness programs are more likely to recommend that business as a great place to work.

Complete results are available in an Optum white paper and can be found online here.




* Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
About Optum
Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 135,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). For more information, visit