Growing Number of CFOs make Health Benefits Strategy Decisions According to New Integrated Benefits Institute Study

The C-suite understands and highly values the linkage of benefit programs and employee health to business performance

OAKLAND, CA – October 22, 2020 – More than half of America’s chief financial officers (CFOs) make all or most benefits decision according to a new study from the Integrated Benefits Institute, a non-profit health and productivity research organization. The report offers insights to assist human resource, benefits managers and other stakeholders to foster a better understanding with CFOs and other senior financial executives of the impact of health and wellbeing investments to productivity and business performance.

“Given the far-reaching impact of the pandemic to health and the economy, it’s even more important that employers maximize resources for the wellbeing and productivity of their employees,” said Brian Gifford, PhD, Director, Research and Analytics at IBI. “Our study highlights the value of conversations with CFOs to build the case for health as a business strategy. If you communicate the value of health investment as if they are strictly focused only on costs, then you run the risk of being tone deaf to what they are strategically trying to accomplish for their businesses and organizations.”

Additional findings of IBI’s study include:

  • Taking a strategic view that health benefits is broader than health care, three-quarters consider time-off or wellbeing programs as part of the benefits strategy.
  • Costs are important to CFOs with 55% stating agree strongly or agree, but not dominant as 77% stated agree strongly or agree that linking workforce health to operation metrics helps company make better decisions about investing in employees’ health.
  • CFOs recognize the non-financial impacts of illness, indicating that increased demands on other employees, lower revenues, higher chance of business errors, decreased customer service quality and missed deadlines as the top five most serious business consequences of poor health and performance.
  • Less than half of CFOs are very confident that their health benefits strategy supports employees’ ability to function well on the job. But both financial and non-financial health and productivity data inspire confidence that benefits contribute to business success.
  • More data is not always better and health spending data doesn’t make the biggest difference to benefits confidence. Respondents indicated that the biggest confidence boosts come from data linking employees’ health to operation outcomes, followed by health care utilization and employees’ mental health conditions.

“We’re seeing a shift from employers offering benefits and generous leave policies as a way to recruit and retain a strong workforce, to now having to do more with less due to the continuing fallout and disruption resulting from the pandemic,” said Kelly McDevitt, President, IBI. “Given the tremendous impact to job performance and productivity, the importance of keeping health at the core of health benefits has been magnified, and CFOs are important stakeholders in developing these strategies.”

About the survey

The online survey assessed how CFOs and other senior financial executives view the impact of employees’ health and their health benefits strategy—including health care and disability insurance, paid leave and sick days, and wellness/wellbeing programs—on business performance. It was completed by 318 executives in May 2020. Partial funding for the study was provided by Kaiser Permanente.

More information can be found in the research publication:

About Integrated Benefits Institute

The Integrated Benefit Institute’s independent research, industry-leading tools and data resources help companies link health-related programs to the outcomes that maximize the contributions of people to productivity and business performance. Founded in 1995, IBI is a national nonprofit research organization and business association serving 1,200 employer and supplier members and their 22 million employees. For additional information, please visit and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Media Contacts:
Cary Conway