It’s no secret that employer wellness programs have increased in popularity over the past few years. The underlying problem is the vagueness of wellness and what it means to organizations and its people. Wellbeing is a different more noble approach to nudge a workforce to think differently. Healthy employees contribute to overall business success by higher levels of productivity, increased work attendance, and increased employee engagement.
But is it worth it? Many will argue that investing in your employees’ health will save your company money in the long run with higher levels of productivity and battle the steady growing health care costs that only rise with an aging workforce. Wellness programs have been shown to boost an average return on investment of around 3 to 1. That return can grow even higher with a motive to address wellbeing.
Aside from the financial benefits, wellness programs better your workforce by improving mental and physical health, boosting morale, and enhancing overall culture. Resulting in happier employees!
But don’t take my word for it, according to United Healthcare, 53% employees with access to workplace wellness programs say the programs have made a positive impact on their health, including 62% saying the initiatives translated to improved productivity and 30%reporting help detecting a disease.
Lower insurance costs and a healthier, happier, more productive workforce, is a win-win for employees and employers.
Implementing a wellness program doesn’t mean breaking the bank to install a fitness center and hire on-site wellness coaches. Your company can start improving your employees’ health without hurting your bottom dollar.
Creating a wellness program that works
When starting a wellness program, your team needs to take into consideration the most important part, the employees! Your company needs to ensure that your employees can and want to participate in a program. Creating a custom wellness program specific to your workforce is key!
There are numerous factors that play a role in the type of wellness program that will work best for you and your employees. It’s important to take into consideration factors ranging from the location of your offices to the age of your employees.
If you’re serious about improving the health of your workforce, you need to be laser-focused on measurable outcomes.
Do you know how your company’s health measures up? Are you better than average, just average, or worse? You can’t know unless you measure!
Biometric screening is a great starting point for companies seeking to improve the health of their employees and reduce health costs. They measure individual employee’s health to determine an average baseline on the health status of the workforce.
By administering biometric screenings and health risk assessments on an annual basis, you can measure and track the health of your employees to determine the best health and wellness strategy for your company.
According to The Willis Health Report, 74% of US employers include a biometric screening as part of their wellness programs. If you’re one of the 26% not utilizing the amazing benefits of biometric screenings, it’s time to reconsider!
Biometric screening can either be done in a doctor’s office or during an on-site assessment to measure five risk factors: waist circumference, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Biometric screening and health risk assessments help employers determine the best strategy for their company based on their employees’ health to determine what risk factors the company should focus on. It can identify smokers and steer them toward smoking cessation programs. It can identify people at risk for heart disease or diabetes and recommend they follow up with a physician to manage and treat their condition.
75% of health care costs are caused by chronic conditions that are often preventable. If we screen our workforce, we can stop preventable health issues from becoming our next big claim.
Preventing Chronic Disease
While it’s impossible to prevent all adverse health events, biometric screening can determine and help manage chronic diseases and prevent heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, and even some forms of cancer.
Although it is not commonly discussed, metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect at least 25% of adults in the United States and more than 50% of those are above the age of 50 – the age of the workforce.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that when found together, dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The conditions are increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist and low HDL cholesterol levels.
This health condition is different from others because you have the power to stop it from affecting you and your employees. It’s important to be aware of metabolic syndrome to prevent or reverse it before it causes serious health complications.
Since 2009, McGohan Brabender has offered companies a behavior modification program, delivered through distance learning, which is designed to reverse metabolic syndrome. It has been used by more than 600 organizations nationally and its success rate in reducing metabolic syndrome is over 40%. That’s an example of a strategy that produces a measurable return on investment. Source.
The bad news: 80 percent of claims over $250,000 are diabetes-related.
But here’s the good news: More than 90% of diabetes cases are Type II diabetes, which is primarily a “lifestyle disease” In other words…it’s preventable!
Your real opportunity to improve the health of your employees and reduce the cost of health care claims is to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control says 30 million American adults are diabetic, and 84 million are pre-diabetic – meaning there is still time to takes steps for prevention.
With early identification and intervention, this costly, chronic disease can be stopped before it even gets started.
Adding a Wellness Program
OK, so now you know why your company should implement a wellness program, but how?
Don’t run for the hills; we’ve got you covered. Here are some ways to jumpstart your program and ensure it’s a success:
Take time to set measurable goals that benefit the company and staff
Creating a wellness program is an exciting project, but it’s important to remember the objective: Improving employees’ health and reducing health care costs. Set realistic goals and create steps to achieve them.
Conduct a health assessment and survey
What do your employees need and want in a program, and how does that fit the goals of the company? By conducting a health risk assessment and survey, followed by biometric screening, you can assess the problem areas of your workforce to then create the framework for a successful program.
Create a custom plan for your company
Based on data gathered from the surveys and health screenings, develop a plan that focuses on the health issues and concerns of the majority of your employee population. Our experience shows that identifying and focusing on three main issues produces greater results. Combine wellness education with physical activity for employees to receive the most benefits.
Seek Feedback and Engage Employees
For a wellness program to be successful, it must encourage long-term participation from employees. Your company should always be open to new ideas and feedback from employees to optimize participation and overall program improvement.
Engage your employees
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s time to break old habits and develop new ones.
Wellness programs aren’t short-term or a quick-fix. They require hard work to get off the ground and encourage a real shift in employee culture.
The needed behavior changes are new, challenging, and can be met with resistance, so programs must include incentives and rewards to promote long-term engagement.
Rewarding employees for getting healthy and achieving results encourages the engagement needed to reach the goals of your wellness program.
Wellness programs that reward employees for achieving goals are estimated to have 40% higher participation rates. By rewarding employees for achieving a wellness goal, you recognize their hard work and provide an incentive to reach their next one.
Connect and Get Social
Wellness can be contagious, and there’s no better way to share those positive feelings than through social media. Encourage your employees to engage on social media for peer support and share milestones achieved during their wellness journey.
Create friendly competitions among employees by hosting monthly step or weight-loss challenges and reward the winner. Employees will be driven to achieve their goals and motivated by the supportive environment.
Embrace and Incorporate Technology
New fitness tech trends hit the market every day. Encourage employees to utilize fitness apps like food journals, on-demand workouts, and fitness tech tools like smartwatches to track calories burned, steps, amount of sleep, and workout results.
Recreational Sports Team
Get employees connected and excited about exercising by creating company sponsored rec sports teams for softball, volleyball, and basketball.
If your company aspires to improve the health of your employees, you need to be focused and committed to measurable, realistic outcomes and incentivize the key factors that are going to make a difference.
Investing in a wellness program will improve your company overall by bettering the health of your workforce, preventing chronic disease and reducing health care costs.
For more information on Wellness, please visit: