Implementing a wellness program is not a new idea, but it is an important business decision that involves a company’s most valuable assets — its employees.
Benefits of workplace wellness programs may include increased employee satisfaction, increased productivity, reduced attrition, lower absenteeism and lower medical costs. In fact, nearly 60 percent of employees with access to wellness programs claim the initiatives have made a positive impact on their health, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey.
The following are five tips for employers to consider when starting a wellness program or refining an existing program:
Customize a Strategy for Your Workforce
Review historical insurance claims data to identify the most common health challenges, prevalent health needs and high-risk populations. Use this insight to help develop a custom strategy, integrating a variety of solutions to target top priorities.
Offer Incentives to Get Employees Motivated to Participate
Align incentives with your wellness program’s goals so employees are rewarded for participating and achieving positive results throughout the year. Choose incentives that are meaningful to your employees: Do they prefer financial incentives such as gift cards, reductions in plan premiums or Health Savings Account contributions? Perhaps vacation days or a charitable donation would serve as better motivators?
Influence the Workplace
Employees spend a significant part of their day at work and are presented with wellness-related decisions throughout the day. It’s important to create an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice. For example, when craving a snack, is there a vending machine that offers healthy alternatives to candy bars and soda? During breaks, is there a walking path or an on-site fitness area with a treadmill? Is it possible to schedule on-site biometric screenings, flu shots, educational seminars or even team-building cooking classes?
Communicate Your Program and Support
Promote your wellness program using traditional channels (lunchroom bulletin boards and flyers), digital channels (email and the intranet) and with “wellness ambassadors.” It’s important to inform and motivate executives and supervisors about the positive roles they can play to support and communicate wellness initiatives.
Evaluate Results and Solicit Input
Evaluate your wellness program annually to assess strengths, weaknesses and progress. Work with your health plan to measure the impact on employee engagement and medical costs, and listen to your employees on how to improve wellness offerings for the future.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a culture of wellness, but a strategy using these tips can help employers give their employees the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle.