Creating a Successful Employee Wellness Program
Over the years, more and more organizations have established employee wellness programs as a method to improve both the health and productivity of their teams. Additionally, these programs have the potential to improve/decrease the overall cost of employer-provided health care. Employer benefits may include lower health care costs, reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, reduction in workers’ comp and disability-related costs, fewer injuries and even improved morale and loyalty.
When determining what are the best options for your organization, one must consider multiple factors including potential costs, benefits, legal issues and compliance requirements.
Step 1: Determine the Status Quo
Determining the current health of your workforce is key. This will enable you to design programs and services that are most beneficial to both your company and your employees. In order to do this, you can utilize employee surveys, health risk assessments, and organizational assessments, while also reviewing group health plan utilization rates and evaluating your organization’s culture and its impact on employee health and wellness.
Step 2: Gain Management Buy-In
As with any new offering, management buy-in is mission-critical. By showing the link between health and business outcomes, wellness can become a fundamental part of the organization, enhancing its overall potential for current and future success.
Step 3: Create a “Wellness Committee”
By creating an internal, employee-driven committee, business leaders can empower others to help build and sustain a wellness culture in the organization. Not only can they consistently monitor participation in the program, they can also continuously evaluate activities and look for new and different ways to engage team members.
Step 4: Set Clear Goals
Different organizations will likely have different goals ranging from improving workers’ health to reducing absenteeism to improving health care costs. When setting clear wellness program goals, statements should be broad, long-term accomplishments with one or more clear objectives, that are time-bound and can be easily measured, in order to determine levels of success.
Step 5: Establish a Budget
Just like any other internal or external program, without funding, the program will not ultimately be successful.
Organizations need to be thorough and think through all potential costs associated with a wellness program – including incentives, marketing and program design. Other expenses could include screening vendor fees, meeting supplies, pedometers/fitness trackers, HR and wellness committee member time, etc. depending on the specific program. In some cases, employers may be able to partner with health care providers, community resources, or even participating employees to offset costs.
Step 6: Determine Wellness Program Components
Because every employer is unique, your individual organization has significant liberty when it comes to designing its own wellness program. There is no one-size-fits-all option and programs can range from very simple to very complex. Common wellness programs address issues like stress reduction, weight loss, and smoking cessation programs. Other examples include health risk assessments, health screenings, exercise programs, nutrition education and vaccination clinics.
Still, as mentioned above, it is extremely important that you consider the legal issues and compliance requirements provided by the ADA, GINA, HIPAA and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) when designing these programs. A great deal of helpful information can be found in SHRM’s (Society for Human Resource Management) website.
Step 7: Establish Incentives or Rewards
Offering incentives or rewards can be a very effective tool to increase participation and ultimately change employee behaviors as it relates to any wellness program. By providing positive consequences, a rewards system is a great motivator. Again, employers have significant latitude in how they design their rewards system – ranging from employees earning points to be exchanged for goods, receiving gifts that celebrate accomplishments or even the employer providing monetary awards for program participation or completion.
As you are designing your incentive system, be careful to stay up to date on compliance requirements. Federal and state regulations may limit incentives.
Step 8: Share the Plan!
After you’ve done all the up-front work, it’s time to communicate this new program to your employees. Be certain your wellness policy statement includes the organization’s intent, the desired level(s) of involvement, and a clear explanation of the rewards system as it relates to employee wellness.
Once the plan has been set in motion, remember that ongoing communication and marketing are important for maintaining engagement and interest!
Step 9: Gauge the Program’s Success
Last but not least, evaluating the effectiveness of any wellness program is important in order to sustain management and employee support. Make sure you adhere to set objectives and keep an eye on where you stand in terms of meeting the goals you established in Step #4.
Overall, with the ever-increasing costs of health insurance and the importance of employee health, implementing a well-thought-out wellness program can result in benefits for both your employees’ health and your bottom line. Need help getting started? Contact our QBS HR team today.