Health and wellness programs and services are designed to encourage healthier lifestyle behaviors in your employees and reduce your health care spending. The focus is on preventing illness and injury, promoting health and productivity, and lowering the total cost of health care. A successful health & wellness program benefits employers by developing and maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce and community. It benefits employees by improving their health both physically and emotionally.
Health and wellness programs are intended to improve and promote health and fitness they are usually offered through the work place, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees. The program allows your employer or plan to offer you premium discounts, cash rewards, gym memberships, and many other types of incentives to participate. Some examples of wellness programs include programs to help you stop smoking, diabetes management programs, weight loss programs, and preventive health screenings. Some employers offer discounts on your health insurance premium if you meet certain requirements. Ex. Walking a certain amount of steps, working out a certain number of days, meeting weight guidelines, quit smoking.
Healthy employees cost companies less. Studies have shown that employees that participated in programs were less likely to leave and seek other employment. Employees are absent less, savings on health care costs, greater productivity, higher morale, and employee pride are just a few of the benefits of health promotion & wellness programs.
Johnson & Johnson started a program in 1995. Since that time employees who smoke has dropped by more than two-thirds. The number who have high blood pressure or who are sedentary declined by more than half. Well, it turns out that a comprehensive, strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental, and physical health pays off. Johnson & Johnson estimates that their wellness programs have saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent. I’m not that great at math but even I realize that’s a lot of money.
In the past wellness programs were viewed as a nice perk, not a necessity. Times have changed and evidence shows they are successful both to employees and in employers bank accounts. With tax incentives and grants available under current federal health care legislation, companies can use wellness programs to decrease their enormous health care costs and provide healthier more productive employees. It’s a win win.
Every company or organization should have an expert who develops and implements a clear, comprehensive wellness program. Programs are created to reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organization’s bottom line. You can’t just implement a program it has to become a companies way of life. Health & wellness programs are always a work in progress. I’ve read that Virgin Mobile has meetings with no chairs. Of course, you need to make the meetings brief and to the point. Encourage use of stairs if you have them.
Some ways of encouraging employees in health & wellness programs are:
Offer a discount on their insurance premium. Memberships (or discounts) to fitness clubs, provide healthy snacks, having walking meetings, have a team contest, start a stretch break or two every day, provide incentive gift cards. Put up fun posters with healthy tips throughout your workplace to keep healthy living to the forefront. Give out apple stress balls to promote healthy snacks. Offer discounts on activity trackers and set specific goals. Use exercise bands to promote exercise. Provide health journals to employees to keep track of progress on their goals. Celebrate with a Health & Wellness Day with fun games and play. Have a company 10K walk and provide FM radios. Compile a healthy company cookbook or provide each employee with one that is already printed. If you want a really fun, competitive prize have a team challenge (team that loses the most weight, inches or exercises the most) with a nice large prize for the winning team. Maybe the prize could be a trip or a night out on the town in a limo.