It’s no secret that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Employers are looking to wellness programs to help reduce costs while improving health.
But how do they work? How do you decide which type of program is right for your company? Here answers to your most frequently asked questions about wellness programs.
1. What is wellness?
Wellness is both a process and an outcome. As a process, people who live a life of wellness actively engage, pursue, and maintain a life of good health. As an outcome, wellness includes a state of measurably positive mental, physical and emotional health.
It’s important to note that a life of wellness doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of disease. For example, a person living with a chronic disease who actively manages disease with medication and a healthy lifestyle is in pursuit of wellness – and therefore, leads a life of wellness. Employer-sponsored wellness programs aim to empower employees to live and lead a life of wellness and ultimately reduce healthcare costs.
2. How do wellness programs work?
An employer-sponsored wellness program aims to address one or more health issues to help prevent or manage disease. For example, if obesity is affecting the majority of your employee population, it may be a good idea to engage in a corporate weight loss program where employees can achieve goals together.
Take your program to the next level through a social wellness platform that can track progress, integrate with fitness devices, and incentivize success. The complexity of the program depends on the desired outcomes and wellness strategy your company has defined.
3. Which type of wellness program should I start with?
As wellness programs have become increasingly popular, more competitive and cost-effective options have become available to employers looking to implement corporate wellness solutions. Unfortunately, the selection of these solutions aren’t as strategic as the programs themselves.
Some employers take a shot in the dark and simply guess or randomly select the best benefit. Take out the guesswork and find your focus through comprehensive biometric screenings. Through aggregate reporting, you can quantitatively determine which types of disease your at-risk employee population is affected by as well as lay the groundwork for your wellness strategy.
Companies who focus on chronic disease management, not just prevention, experience a greater return on investment ($3.27 vs. $1.50 for every dollar spent).
4. How do I engage employees in a wellness program?
Participation in wellness programs are generally voluntary, although some of the most successful programs utilize incentives or penalties to influence participation and consistent engagement.
For example, Johnson & Johnson employees get $500 off annual premiums for submitting a health profile; the company then uses data to offer an additional $100 to $250 for participating in activities tailored to the employee, such as a diabetes management program. The company says its return on investment is up to $4 of every dollar it spends on employee wellness.
5. How do I measure wellness program effectiveness and success?
The effectiveness and success of your wellness program is largely dependent on your program objectives. What do you want to achieve with your program? Reduced number of smokers? 90% participation in biometric screening?
Whichever type of program you plan to implement, begin with the end in mind to best measure success. The more comprehensive your wellness strategy, the greater the return on investment. One municipality implemented a shared-site clinic with another nearby entity.
In the first two years of operation, the program achieved 88% engagement of high-risk individuals, a 27% reduction in emergency room visit costs, and a savings of $74,787 on prescriptions alone. Consider the impact you want your wellness program to achieve and set the system in place to encourage consistent participation.