0409workforceap-crop-600x338There’s much debate over whether or not it’s a good thing for employers to get involved in their employees’ health and wellbeing, even though most reports seem to indicate positive results in companies that have a workplace wellness program in place. However, a recent study has revealed a surprising reason that many employees aren’t participating in these initiatives.

They have no idea they exist.

According to a report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 80 percent of employers said they’re offering some type of wellness program, which is great since two-thirds of employees said they’d love for their employer to invest in their health. So what’s the problem?

Even though 80 percent of employees said they offer wellness programs, only 45 percent of employees acknowledged having been offered one! Now there could be a number of reasons for this discrepancy. People may differ on their opinion of what constitutes a wellness program. Less robust initiatives could fail to get noticed. But the bottom line is that there’s a major breakdown in communication there somewhere.

A large majority of employees feel that these workplace wellness programs are valuable. As many as 83 percent thought they improved employees’ health, as well as increased productivity. And almost three-fourths of those surveyed agreed that wellness programs improved healthcare costs. So, how can employers better emphasize the resources available to their employees?

One suggestion is to create a socially supportive environment where wellness can thrive. Managerial accountability is an important component of that. When managers integrate wellness into the goals of the business and actively support and participate in the program, it overwhelmingly increases the program’s success.

And this is one place where small businesses have an advantage. According to the survey, employees of smaller companies were more likely to say they had resources to help them stay healthy than those who worked for  larger firms (46 percent vs. 39 percent). Employees of small businesses also more often agreed that their CEO felt a responsibility to provide for the health insurance needs of their workers.

The bottom line is that workers want their employers to invest in their health. That trend has to start at the top and trickle down throughout all levels of the organization. And it must be clearly communicated for maximum impact.