Corporate Wellness Programs
Survey: More employers are offering incentives to participate in wellness programs
Monday, 26 September 2011 16:00Employee wellness programs have been shown to provide workers with invaluable information on healthy living and stress management, which can result in reduced healthcare costs. However, they can't do much good if workers don't use them.
In a survey, human resources firm bswift found that the number of companies offering incentives for participation in wellness programs rose from 49 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011.
Additionally, companies appear to be using health biometrics as a way to measure the outcomes of wellness programs and ensure that workers are getting results from them.
"On the wellness front, we're seeing large and small companies investing significant time and money in biometric tests and wellness incentives as strategic tools to stimulate employee engagement and control costs," said bswift CEO Rich Gallun.
The survey also found that organizations are cutting back on administrative costs stemming from employee health benefits by using technology solutions. The researchers noted that companies who implement automated benefits administration processes stand to save an estimated $19 per employee.
Manager support for wellness programs may improve efficacy
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 16:00Employee wellness programs that actively engage workers and provide incentives for participation have been shown to be more effective than those that simply provide information. Part of getting everyone on board is ensuring that managers and CEOs are supportive of initiatives for a healthier staff.
Demonstrating a need for a wellness program and emphasizing the return on investment that can be achieved through such an initiative may be an effective way to gain management support.
"The first test of leading a healthy company has to do with the CEO's level of care and concern for the organization’s employees," according to WELCOA, in its Capturing CEO Support report.
In a University of Georgia study, it was found that a wellness program that was engaging and supported by managing staff was significantly more effective than one that was purely informational, according to Workforce Management magazine.
In fact, the supervisor-supported initiative resulted in a 51 percent rate of participation, compared to 25 percent in the control group.
This suggests that providing managers and CEOs with information on the importance of reducing workplace stress may strengthen the efficacy of employee wellness programs targeted at anxiety and tension.
Experts make a good business case for wellness programs
Monday, 12 September 2011 16:00In light of a weak economy and the rising costs of healthcare, business administrators are keeping close tabs on their company's expenditures. As such, some may be skeptical about implementing an employee wellness program, questioning whether the initiative would be worth the money.
However, employee wellness programs have been shown to help reduce absenteeism, cut costs stemming from insurance benefits, strengthen employee productivity and result in lower turnover, according to an article in the Muskogee Phoenix.
These money-saving factors can potentially offset the initial cost of a wellness program.
An article on Forbes.com reports that roughly three quarters of healthcare costs stem from the lifestyle habits of staff members, suggesting that interventions to change unhealthy behavior may be successful in reducing insurance expenditures.
Additionally, the article noted that wellness programs are estimated to result in $3 return for every dollar spent on the initiative. The author cited research that was conducted by the Wellness Council of America.
Recent studies have shown that organizations should gauge employee needs before implementing a wellness strategy in order to get the most out of their money. For example, workers who tend to eat right and exercise may be more in need of a program that provides stress management tools than one that encourages healthy eating.
Assessing stress levels in workers may improve efficacy of wellness programs
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 16:00Employee wellness programs that provide nutritious meal recipes or encourage staff members to exercise more may be beneficial for overweight or malnourished workers, but what about those who already have healthy lifestyle habits but feel intense pressure on the job?
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are reporting that asking workers to gauge their stress levels on a scale of one to 10 may help determine which staffers would benefit the most from employee wellness programs that provide stress management tools, according to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
"Wellness programs and centers typically initially focus on physical fitness and weight loss," said lead researcher Matthew Clark, Ph.D. "Perhaps by addressing other domains of wellness - stress management, work-life balance, spirituality and resilience - employees might gain the confidence and skills to truly achieve better overall wellness."
Considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that an estimated 40 percent of American workers experience high levels of workplace stress, employee wellness programs that promote stress management may be needed in many offices and professional environments.
Strategy may improve ROI on wellness programs
Thursday, 01 September 2011 16:00For many administrators, the first thing they want to know before implementing an employee wellness program is the return on investment (ROI) the company will receive.
An article on a website for the Human Resource Network states that wellness initiatives only need to reduce employee health risk factors by less than 1 percent in order to see savings on health insurance. In fact, the news source estimates that a 0.2 percent reduction in risk will typically earn companies their money back on the program over a five-year period.
There may be some strategies that can help businesses see an even better ROI, according to the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).
First, administrators can review their organization's policy to see if a wellness program is covered by their insurance company. Additionally, wellness dollars available through some employee health benefit packages can provide incentives for workers to participate in programs that promote well-being.
Companies can also consider implementing policies that encourage healthy behavior, such as smoking bans. WELCOA reported that one organization was even able to fix their elevator to move slowly, prompting workers to take the stairs instead.
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