The Role of Workplace Wellness:
Putting a Wellness Program in Place
Wellness & Savings Potential
In the ongoing quest to keep health benefit costs in check, employers are having a lot of success by helping employees focus on becoming healthier. That’s why more and more companies are putting a workplace wellness program in place.
How are savings achieved through wellness efforts? Claims are paid as accumulated each month. If healthy behaviors are encouraged and adopted through wellness programs, the related care costs can – and often do – start to go down.
Self-funding is also unique in that it offers the added ability to evaluate aggregate plan data (this information identifies group health trends vs. individual, and complies with all HIPAA requirements) and determine where wellness efforts should be targeted. When claims show certain risk areas, for example, companies can adjust their wellness strategies to offer health coaching or other resources to address them.
Coordinating Wellness Efforts
So what should companies consider when coordinating or re-evaluating a workplace wellness program? As beneficial as it is to be able to customize your efforts to your workforce, it’s also important to take a well-rounded approach. Wellness initiatives should be inclusive and engaging. They should incorporate elements of both physical and mental health.
Every company has its own goals for wellness and uses different methods to achieve them. Many will organize a dedicated wellness team that is responsible for implementing a big-picture strategy to ensure a healthy environment. The goal is to promote a culture of wellness whenever and however possible. When possible, it’s important to include employees from throughout the company on the team, versus management only.
Some popular wellness tactics in self-funding include:
- Screenings/assessments – From health risk assessments to biometric screenings, these tools are commonly used to identify problem areas within a work population, create benchmarks and measure change.
- Coaching/education – How can employers help employees embrace healthier behaviors? Health coaching and educational resources (everything from a health-centered newsletter to exercise class over the lunch hour) are helpful tools to provide in the journey to wellness.
- Challenges and contests – Action-oriented in nature, many companies are taking wellness a step further and offering fun activities and contests to motivate employees to stick with their commitment to better health. This is a popular way to introduce incentives and get creative with rewards/prizes.
- Healthy work environment – Consistency is key to wellness program success, and one way to support healthy choices is to ensure the workplace itself encourages such behavior. For example, many companies replace traditional soda and snack vending machines with ones that contain healthy food and drink options, or stock their staff lounges with fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods/beverages. Another option is to provide employees with on-site access to treadmills, meditation rooms or other wellness-related areas to use on breaks, etc.
Self-funding and employee wellness go hand in hand. Companies that take the time to put a coordinated wellness program together often see higher participation rates, improved employee health and more significant claim savings.