Amid rising health-care costs, most companies worldwide are expected to focus more on health initiatives for employees in the next few years, says a survey.
According to a study by Towers Watson, three quarter of companies surveyed said employees health and promoting health and well-being will be a priority for their organisations this year and next.
Moreover, 87 per cent of respondent said it will be a higher priority over the next two to four years.
To address this concern, nearly half of respondents (47 per cent) plan to implement a global workforce health strategy in the next two years. Currently, about one-third (32 per cent) of multinationals have a global workforce health strategy in place.
However, in Asia, less than one-quarter (23 per cent) of multinationals headquartered in the region currently have such a strategy, and one-third (33 per cent) have no plans to adopt one.
The survey also found that wellness programmes have become pertinent globally as more multinationals promote health and well-being.
Reasons for growing emphasis on workforce health vary significantly by region as multinationals in various regions have different needs and goals.
"In Asia, the focus is on the need to compete for top talent, while cost containment continues to be the primary concern in the US Multinationals based in Europe who are interested in reducing absenteeism and improving employee health and safety," the survey noted.
Overall, 75 per cent of multinationals surveyed currently offer a wellness programme, which may include education over health issues and preventive care and these programmes have been growing popular over the last few years.
However, 62 per cent of Asia-based multinationals incorporate wellness into employee benefit and total rewards programmes.
The survey was conducted in early 2011 and includes responses from about 150 multinational corporations representing a total workforce of 5.2 million people.