Retention & Engagement

How employers can improve their corporate wellness program

Corporate wellness program benefits

With the New Year in full swing, wellness-related conversations can be overheard in just about any workplace. It’s the time of year when everyone is trying to make positive changes; and for many individuals, their health is top-of-mind. However, even though employees are making an extra effort to gain energy, improve productivity and decrease risk of illness, this sort of focus on wellness doesn’t always translate to a priority for employers.

Many of the employers I encounter on the Vistage speaking circuit think they have a “wellness program” in place because they encourage employees to get blood tests and place clever health quotes in the bathrooms. While this may be a slight exaggeration, by failing to align corporate wellness efforts with best practice standards, employers are missing out on a variety of advantages that come with employees making major health improvements – including cost savings.

In my opinion, a true state of the art wellness program recognizes that over 80% of all illnesses are preventable, and if all employers used preventative healthcare measures effectively, the overall cost of corporate healthcare could be reduced by approximately 50% over the next ten to twenty years. Vistage members can lead the way in taking stock of their company’s wellness efforts by answering some strategic questions:

1. What are the best ideas to encourage employees to become healthier?

Understand that wellness programs are not created equal. Many employers think they are doing everything they can to help employees become healthier, when they are usually doing a fraction of what they could be. Consider holding an open forum for employees to share what efforts they would like to see in the workplace, or review some of the steps taken by other companies with successful corporate wellness programs.

2. What elements are usually missing from a corporate wellness program?

The following are a few key elements that make a big difference (click to tweet to share with your peers):

  • Better Blood Tests. Health insurance companies do not usually measure glucose tolerance, vitamin D3 or C-reactive protein. These tend to be the best indicators for the risk of diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease.
  • Better Incentives. Most employers are not taking advantage of the Obama Care incentive, which allows employers to charge unhealthy employees up to 30% more for their health insurance. This increase can motivate employees to become healthier.
  • Better Education Programs. Most education programs do not fully utilize existing evidence-based health-improvement protocols. Resources like The Cleveland Clinic and Healthy at Work are helping companies to prevent and reverse illness among employees through research-backed health education.
  • Better Broker Services. Most insurance brokers are doing very little to earn their large commissions. Healthy at Work has an evaluation tool to help measure the performance of brokers.  With it, employers can find the best broker to meet company expectations.
  • Better Financing for Wellness. Most employers are woefully underfunding their wellness program. A standard measure would be to spend $150 to $200 per employee, per year, on wellness education, in order to see ROI.

These are just some of the potential improvements employers can make in their wellness programs. There are many more. Finding and properly using them could help employers compete in an increasingly competitive business environment.

What is your company’s current wellness initiative look like? Leave a comment on how you have, or would like to, improve employee wellness.

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