Employee Wellness Programs
Employee wellness is an area that has been receiving increasing amounts of attention recently. A combination of soaring healthcare costs, uncertainty about coverage, ROI concerns, and wanting to do the best thing for your employees, can leave company directors with a pile of questions unanswered. However, creating an Employee Wellness Program can be a lot easier, and a lot less costly, than you may initially think.
Why create an Employee Wellness Program?
As the popularity of Employee Wellness Programs has increased, more data has become available, along with a commensurate rise in the understanding of how to create smarter, more effective programs. A recent compilation of 56 studies on wellness programs in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed an average 27% reduction in sick leave absenteeism, a 26% reduction in health care costs, and a 32% reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management cost claims. The University of Michigan Health Management Research Center (HMRC) estimates that an organization saves $350 annually when a low-risk employee remains low risk and $153 when a high-risk employee’s health risks are reduced. Furthermore, an independent meta analysis of programs in 2012 reported in the American Journal of Health Promotion found ROIs of $3.27 for medical cost savings and $2.73 for absenteeism reduction for every $1 spent.
Potentially even more significant than the financial implications of introducing a Wellness Program, the intrinsic benefits of valuing employees and giving them the opportunity to be included in the education and information process of a plan, has organic advantages that create an internal energy that can be appreciated by employees and clients alike.
Where to start?
The first step is usually to assess the wellness needs of your employees with a Health Risk Appraisal. This is a questionnaire that reviews personal lifestyle practices and then helps identify risk factors. The responses from an HRA form the initial foundation for any Wellness Program. There are restrictions on the way you can use this data depending on the number of employees your company has.
Another method of collecting data is to create an interest survey, listing those factors that you have identified as potentially most relevant to your employees – each factor then receives a ranking. You can also include a “catch all” option so that employees can add and rank other factors that you hadn’t included.
Designing a program
Once you have a clearer picture of which areas a Wellness Program should address, it is time to consider the design of a program. This is where working with an outside provider reaps rewards. An organization that specializes in Wellness Programs, especially one that has a track record of delivering long term lifestyle changes, can make the difference between going through the motions and a successful program.
The Association for Worksite Health Promotion recommend the following quality standard guidelines for an emloyee wellness program:
- Clear statement of philosophy, purpose and goals
- Commitment from senior management to dedicate resources to enable program, including participation themselves
- Process of assessing organizational and individual needs, risks and costs
- Leadership from qualified and experienced health and fitness professionals in design, implementation, and ongoing operations
- Program design that addresses the most significant health risks for the employees and needs of the organization
- High quality and user friendly programs that motivate participants to achieve lasting and progressive behavior changes
- Effective marketing to achieve and maintain highest possible participation rates
- Efficient systems for program operation and administration
- Evaluation procedures to monitor quality and outcomes
- System for communicating the program results to employees, staff, and senior management
For employees to be excited about your Wellness Program, they need to see that you are excited about it too! Management promotion of a program can take many forms, and ideally is linked to the specific culture of the organization. Management participation is key, and should be a foundation of the design of the program itself.
The big question is, how to incentivise appropriately so that employees, and management, will be motivated to become engaged, and remain engaged, in the wellness process? A feature on weight loss by journalist Lisa Marshall in Bicycling Magazine, cites Steven Driver, MD, an instructor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “People are hardwired to make choices in their short term interest.” Driver suggests that the pull of evolution means that people will choose immediate gratification, “even if it’s not rational…When resources like food were scarce, it made sense to gobble up whatever was at hand rather than bank on an uncertain future, says Driver.” “In a study that Driver worked on as an internal medicine resident at the Mayo Clinic, researchers tracked 100 obese volunteers as they tried to lose four pounds a month for one year. Half could win $20 each month if they met their goal; if they didn’t, they’d have to fork over $20 instead. The other half received no such promise. The incentive-group members lost nearly four times as much weight on average as the others, and 62 percent completed the program. Only 26 percent of the control group stuck it out all year.”
Appropriate incentivization is a delicate balance between duration, the rewards themselves, progress, and the specific needs of the employees. Most people are motivated by money, that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone though. The effectiveness of any program can also be enhanced by considering the structure of different teams or work locations and incentivize them as a group rather than individuals. We can always achieve far more together than we can alone. Research shows that the gains in behavioral change can be up to 3 times greater when the same amount of incentive reward is given to a group, rather than given to the individuals in that same group.
Keep them happy
What engages employees for the first couple of months may not work as effectively past that time. It’s another factor of human nature that we need change and new experiences to keep us engaged. This is another valid reason to choose an outside provider for a wellness program. Take your eyes off the program, and it can rapidly turn from success into another feature of work that becomes something else to do. An expert provider can work with you to ensure that your program develops and grows organically alongside the behavioral changes of your employees.
Why Active at Altitude?
We provide a unique blend of experience as Health & Fitness Professionals, with a combined experience of more than 40 years. We have worked with groups and personal clients and have developed a reputation for motivating, educating and inspiring lasting lifestyle changes in a way that is respectful of the individual while also holding the highest expectations for our clients. We have experience across all components of a wellness program, from physiological, psychological, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and intuitive perspectives and work to provide a program that truly sees the “bigger picture” for your organization, and your employees.
Terry created and developed a wellness program for a previous employer in England, delivering educational seminars to employees. He also led a coaching program each year for a group of employees that completed the London Marathon, changing lives forever. He was also a key driver in the employer creating an incentive program for healthy lifestyle changes, and adding facilities that supported these changes. Since coming to the USA, Terry has created a Wellness Program for a local organization, as well as working with hundreds of groups and individuals to help them achieve lasting health and wellness in all areas of their lives.
Jacqui worked with her previous employer in England on occupational wellness in the workplace, as well as creating a running group that met on a regular basis. Since coming to the USA Jacqui has become an Advanced Certified Massage Therapist, and established a healing center in Estes Park, CO, working with hundreds of clients to raise their awareness of their own health and wellness, which has also involved developing a role as a highly successful intuitive life path coach.
“Terry Chiplin provided our Agency with a Wellness Program that was informative, helpful, applicable and useful. I received many comments from my staff saying how much they learned and have applied since that program. Terry is very knowledgeable in this area, positive, lives what he says so therefore credible and fun. We would definitely recommend him!” Shelley Doggett, AAI, CIC, President of Insurance Associates, Inc. in Estes Park, CO
What can we provide?
- Program consulting, implementation, and ongoing development
- Employee workshops that are educational, interactive, and fun to participate in
- Resources and partnerships with other providers for biometric analyses
- Online information portals through a dedicated website
- Engaging and informative newsletters
- Development of bespoke smartphone App if required
- Provision of training plans for employees, both remotely and in person
- Advice on fitness programs for groups or individuals
- Development of active and fun interactive sessions for employees of all ability levels
- Cost effective program development
If you would like further information on our Employee Wellness Programs, we would love to hear from you. Please use this link, and we will normally respond within the next business day. We look forward to hearing from you.