by Matthew A. Struck, CPCU, ARM – November 30, 2017

Wellness programs have been a thing for a number of years now. The overall goal is to try and promote a healthier workforce. The benefits can be huge if implemented correctly. But most importantly, the workforce has to buy in. If you’re going to make a commitment to employee wellness, you can’t simply pick a program off the shelf and offer it to your employees. The following are some best practices to get the most out of an employee wellness plan. Full disclaimer, if you’re not willing to commit to these, you’re wasting time and resources that might be better spent elsewhere in your organization.

What are the Benefits of an Effective Employee Wellness Program?
  • Less lost days of work due to employee illnesses and injuries
  • Shorter recovery time for employees injured on-the-job or even those suffered outside of their work duties
  • Lower health insurance costs – healthier employees have less chronic illnesses and proactively control chronic conditions to stop them from getting worse
    • 80% of health insurance dollars are spent on chronic illness
    • Typically, 5-10% of a health plan’s members create that 80% of expenses
  • Better employee morale – healthier people have higher levels of job satisfaction and lower incidence of depression or mental illness
  • Higher levels of productivity – health and happy individuals get more done at a higher level quality level
Best Practices
  • Lead by Example! – If senior leaders and business owners aren’t walking the walk, the rest of the organization will see the commitment to wellness as non-existent
  • Expand current program benefits to pay 100% for healthy behavior/procedures – this may increase your health program spending in the near term but the dividends it can pay in the future are huge
  • Include incentives for healthy behavior – don’t just rely on the promise of controlling their health premium contribution to inspire buy-in; as is the case with general job performance, financial incentives aren’t the only way to inspire involvement; find other ways to reward activity rates and health achievements (pay for healthy lunches for your staff, create competitions internally with rewards like event tickets and apparel, recognize significant personal achievements with plaques/trophies)
  • Track the group’s baseline and progress – use an initial survey and snapshot of the current program performance to compare future results to; consistently re-evaluate the program and identify what is working and what isn’t (double down on what is working and find an alternative what isn’t)
  • Communicate constantly about the achievements your organization has achieved – let them know how many pounds have been lost, how many sick days have been reduced, and how the dialogue went better with respects to the health insurance renewal
  • Always focus on the positive – directly or indirectly being critical of folks’ health is a short cut to killing enthusiasm and actually creating the opposite results that you’re seeking to achieve
  • Open the program to employees’ families – including family and friends increases the reach of the program, increases the number of participants that will hold others’ accountable, and probably helps the bottom line because a number of those family members that participate are probably covered under your health insurance program
Other Resources

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