Executives who want healthier employees should make sure their actions match their words.[@@]

Employee benefits managers delivered that message in responses to a survey conducted by the consulting arm of Aon Corp., Chicago.

When Aon researchers talked to benefits managers at 205 large and midsize employers, they found that 43% of the companies already offer some form of wellness program.

Obesity was the top concern of 36% of the benefits managers and fitness was the top concern of 26%. Smoking was the top concern for only 4% of the managers surveyed.

But 58% of the companies with wellness programs do offer smoking cessation help. Only weight management help and health risk assessments are more popular.

The participating benefits managers said they often have trouble persuading employees to participate in the wellness programs offered.

About 25% of the participants ran into resistance from more than half of their employees.

“Not sufficiently motivated” was the top reason, at 41%, followed by “too busy,” at 20%.

Although 29% of the participants said effective communications can drive wellness program success, a total of 47% of the participants named senior management support and employee incentives as 2 key factors in efforts to increase participation.

More than 37% of the companies failed to offer any incentives for participation in wellness programs.