Corporate Wellness Programs
Foundation urges organizations to offer wellness incentives
Sunday, 28 August 2011 16:00Research has indicated that employee wellness programs are growing in prevalence, as companies begin to see the value of improving staff health in an effort to reduce workplace stress, strengthen employee performance and cut down on employee health benefit costs.
Scientists at the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) are now saying that offering incentives may help increase the number of workers who participate in wellness programs, thereby strengthening the initiatives' efficacy.
Authors of the study noted that about $2.5 trillion is spent each year on healthcare in the U.S.
"As much as 75 percent of that is spent on preventable conditions, so the potential savings through preventative healthcare measures that include workplace wellness programs could be as high as $1.9 trillion per year," said Rodger Stotz, IRF's chief research officer.
Additionally, the foundation reported that businesses with initiatives in place are likely to see improved employee performance and staff quality of life.
The scientists said that organizations that do not offer incentives to workers for engaging in wellness programs have an estimated 20 percent participation rate. Conversely, those that do offer rewards boast an 80 percent rate of participation.
Key aspects to look for in an employee wellness program
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 16:00As the popularity of wellness initiatives rises, so does the number of programs available. As as result, financial coaching company LFE Institute gave their recommendations of things to look for when choosing an effective employee wellness program.
Initiatives should provide clear problem-solving techniques and ideas. Specific solutions to problems like workplace stress are key to a successful initiative.
They should also engage employees with interactive workshops or coaching sessions. Research has shown that individuals are more apt to learn if they are engaged in an activity, compared to listening to a lecture or reading materials.
A good employee wellness program will provide measurable results. Showing a person their progress is an effective way to keep them using an initiative.
The company reported that educational interventions should be simple and not time-consuming. After all, a stressed-out worker typically already has enough on their plate.
Employee wellness programs designed by HeartMath's team of scientists and experts have been shown to provide results, engage workers, teach healthy stress relief techniques and are easy to use.
Organizations are using tough love to boost employee wellness
Monday, 15 August 2011 16:00Unhealthy workers have a tendency to raise employee health benefit costs, and employee wellness programs that provide tools and tips for healthy living usually don't come free. As a result, organizations are taking certain measures to ensure that their staff makes an effort to improve their well-being or pay more for healthcare.
An article in the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the trend of offering incentives or penalties for participation in employee wellness programs may be a way for organizations to get their workers' attention, communicating to the staff that they take health - and expenditures stemming from a lack thereof - seriously.
“We want you to take some responsibility, and if you don’t do certain things we want you to do, you’ll only be eligible for the bad [health insurance] plan with a $3,000 deductible as opposed to the $1,000 deductible,” said Paul Berger, chief medical officer of Aon Hewitt, quoted by the news source. “That gets your attention.”
The Harvard School of Public Health has also reported on the topic, saying that organizations are mostly seeking a return on investment (ROI) for their wellness initiatives. It has been estimated that there is a $3 to $1 ROI for these programs.
The news source quoted an expert who said that individuals tend to be more averse to losing money than the potential for a gain.
Companies are tailoring their employee wellness programs to meet needs
Monday, 08 August 2011 16:00Office workers, physical laborers and educators all have very different careers with unique stressors. As a result, many are gauging their employees' needs before moving forward with an employee wellness program.
An article in Prairie Business magazine reported that some organizations are using health assessments to determine their staff's needs when it comes to wellness initiatives.
For instance, at one manufacturing plant, administrators discovered that their workers were at risk of musculoskeletal problems and injuries related to physical labor. As a result, the company is now developing safety goals, according to the source.
In one public school, it was found that teachers were in need of guidelines on leading healthier lifestyles and avoiding cardiovascular disease.
Federal Occupational Health (FOH), part of the U.S. Public Health Service, has reported that employee wellness programs should be tailored to a business' needs. There are many types of initiatives available to address motivation, stress reduction, healthy living and weight control, according to the FOH.
It may be safe to say that most organizations have at least some employees who experience workplace stress. Considering that anxiety leads to a host of mental and physical conditions, tools and resources to manage stress may be an especially useful tool for businesses.
Study reveals significant health benefits of employee wellness programs
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 16:00Using research involving more than 1,400 workers who participated in employee wellness programs, scientists at Henry Ford Hospital (HFH) in Detroit found that the interventions were successful in alleviating a host of stress-related conditions.
Authors of the study noted that chronic neck, back and head pain - often linked to anxiety - is estimated to cost U.S. employers $61 billion annually due to poor productivity.
The researchers began following the workers in 2007. Since then, the scientists observed that the wellness initiatives resulted in an improvement in chronic pain for 76 percent of the study group and a complete elimination of such discomforts for 39 percent of the individuals.
"Chronic pain and stress are intricately related and the importance of stress as a causal and/or aggravating factor in most chronic illnesses cannot be underestimated," says Alba Rodriguez, Ph.D., of HFH. "These group programs have proven to be more effective than other approaches, and are more efficient and less expensive than most one-on-one care, whether conventional or alternative."
Additional findings included a 74 percent reduction in workplace stress, a 50 percent alleviation in stress-related illnesses, such as high blood pressure and gastrointestinal conditions. Moreover, 70 percent of the employees reported that they were able to eliminate their use of pain medications.
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