Wellness Programs at Work

WellnessMany companies have taken an active role in encouraging employees to increase their personal health and wellness.  There are many different approaches and ways to accomplish these goals and objectives.  Included are smoking cessation programs, onsite gyms, and onsite medical clinics that give workers access to tools that increase their health.  However, participation in these health-related programs is often quite low.  Studies show that participation rates are generally at only 19% for a given workforce, and all too often those participating already are healthy and fit.  So how can employers encourage participation in health incentive programs to make them worthwhile?  One method is to provide incentives to employees that participate.  A recent survey done by the Fidelity Business Group on companies ranging in size from 1,000 to 100,000 employees, demonstrates some of the trends in incentive programs.

  • Almost three out of four companies (73 percent) use incentives
  • The average incentive value was $460.
  • 58% percent offered them to spouses and dependents
  • 20% use penalties, such as increased premiums and deductibles for those not participating

Although incentives offered varied greatly from cash, gift cards and contributions to health savings accounts, a mere 57% of those using incentives felt they were helpful in increasing participation rates.

That aside, research also suggests that companies that invest in health and wellness see positive ROI for their efforts.  According to the Wellness Council of America for every $1 investment in wellness programs a company saves $3 in health care costs.  However the majority, 76%, of companies surveyed reported they do not know the return on their investment in health improvement programs.

It can be difficult but necessary to identify goals and objectives for wellness programs and to be able to measure the effectiveness of them.  Today more than ever, every dollar spent needs to have purpose and return on investment so not looking at the success of these programs is a recipe for disaster.  Imagine spending time and resources on a health and wellness program only to have the dollars discontinued because the results of the program were not effectively quantified.  This sends a poor message to the workforce that health and wellness is not important and that the workers themselves are not valued.  In order to protect these programs and to make them as successful as possible, strong metrics must be determined and shared with management as well as with the workers themselves.

For a health and wellness program to be successful it should:

  • Have management support – managers need to be encouraged to support the program and to participate!
  • Be targeted with goals and objectives – set achievable yet realistic goals
  • Measure results – even poor results will help to increase the effectiveness of future programs
  • Share results with management and employees
  • Use incentives that work for your workforce – ask employees what they would like
  • Use appropriate incentives – don’t give out gift cards to Pizza Hut for a weight loss challenge
  • Consider a 3rd party vendor  – employees are often leery about sharing personal health information with co-workers and their employers

It is clear that wellness programs are a burgeoning trend at companies committed to injury prevention and employee health.  With impending changes in health care law and new regulations on the horizon, employers’ role in injury and illness prevention will likely continue to increase.  Mechanisms to increase participation and effectiveness of programs will be a hot topic of discussion.  For fifteen years InjuryFree has been dedicated to the pursuit of workplace health and wellness.  Please contact us for more information on how you can increase the health and wellness of your workforce using highly utilized, proven methods that yield an outstanding return on investment.