Companies and organizations throughout the United States are seeking effective strategies and policies in the face of ever-increasing healthcare costs and the rising expense of employer-provided health insurance. LHD takes a data-driven approach to wellness programming that gets results by improving the population health of your workforce, which in turn helps contain the cost of healthcare and health insurance. Additional value is generated because a healthier employee is more productive and absent less often due to illness and health problems. Fewer claims, increased productivity, and less absenteeism all add up to significant ROI on your efforts.
Can Wellness Programming Really Make a Difference?
The short answer here is a resounding YES. What this page lays out, however, is a longer answer. Why? Because there is a huge variety of options when it comes to wellness programs, and not all of it is created equal. Some work, some don’t, and which ones will get the results you’re looking for at your workplace will depend on the unique data points and characteristics of your workforce. In addition to choosing the right wellness programs, they must also be carefully implemented, managed, and marketed to each employee to ensure adoption and engagement. It’s a lot to figure out, but you don’t have to go it alone. LHD is ready to help you get maximum wellness program management benefits.
Wellness Programs Beyond Health Screenings
Any company whose wellness programming consists only of an annual health screening and flu shot coordinated by the human resources department is simply missing out. As important as those items are, it’s barely even the tip of the iceberg in terms of effective programs a business can take to improve the health of its workforce. The big-ticket items good wellness programming can address include healthier eating, exercise and fitness, stress reduction and mental health, and managing chronic conditions. What you also have to consider are the unique health characteristics of your workforce to help make decisions about which programs to offer and prioritize them with resources based on what the data says will make the biggest difference to overall population health. If you’re not sure whether your company’s current wellness programming makes the grade, use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Worksite Health ScoreCard and you’ll find out where you stand.
Starting with Data, Ending with Results
Working with our partner Vital Incite, we will analyze the claims data of your workforce to identify all the important trends around what types of health challenges result in the most claims across your workforce. This is what helps determine which wellness programs should be offered as well as to prioritize them from greatest impact to least impact to see where your resources for will best be spent. However, it’s also important to find out from employees themselves where their own interests lie in terms of programs they’d most like to see offered. Tapping into current employee perceptions and opinions is something we’re used to doing, and we’ll use the data we collect to further inform the design and development of wellness programming at your company.
The Financial Case for Workplace Wellness Programs
Everyone feels helpless about the rising cost of healthcare and health insurance. Spending even more scarce resources on wellness programs can feel like too much to ask. But it’s a matter of making sure you really understand the numbers at play here. The CDC sums it up nicely:
“Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers more than $225 billion every year. And the indirect costs of poor health—including absenteeism, disability, and reduced work output—are even higher. That’s why workplace health programs make good business sense” (source).
This is the kind of virtuous cycle you want to get caught up in. You put resources into wellness programming that gets results, which improves the population health of your workforce, which in turn means higher productivity and less absenteeism along with lowering your overall healthcare spend by way of fewer claims. Growing a culture of health in a workplace just might be the best business decision you make this year. For an excellent case study of inexpensive wellness programming at one company that got good results, take a look at A Flexible Approach to Wellness Leads to Reduced Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke. It’s also worth noting recent research that has documented the connection between health and productivity, especially as it relates to the problem of presenteeism (working when sick). See an excellent summary of the research at How Do Wellness Programs Increase Productivity?
An Excellent Starting Point: Health Coaches
Some of the best wellness program management benefits come from rolling out a health coaching program at your workplace. Personalized individual attention from a health coach has been proven over and over to have a big impact in assisting employees to set realistic health goals and holding them accountable for making steady progress toward reaching them. If you’d like to learn more about the how and why of health coaching, including references to studies proving its effectiveness, please be sure to visit the Health Coach Services and Benefits page of our website. Having health coaches also becomes another point of contact for raising awareness about relevant wellness programs from which employees would benefit. The health coach will encourage and support employees to participate in those programs. Also keep in mind that health coaching is one of the best ways to help employees manage the five chronic conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and physical activity) that cost employers $36.4 billion each year in absenteeism (source).
Engagement in Employee Wellness Programs
Your HR staff are not marketing experts, which is why it makes sense to let LHD help you when it’s time to launch your wellness programs and get people to opt-in. It begins with effective communication. We have decades of experience in crafting the kinds of messages employees pay attention to when it comes to the company health plan, and we also apply our expertise to marketing your wellness programs to your workforce. There are also opportunities to leverage the results participating employees get to further promote the programs. People who make significant health improvements can be an inspiration to others, and we can help you tell their stories effectively.
It’s also worth exploring various simple ways of offering rewards and incentives to employees that encourage their participation in the wellness programming you ultimately make available to them. You can only take rewards (or penalties) so far, however, without running afoul of federal regulations and guidelines. LHD is familiar with the various limits and thresholds around wellness program incentives, so you never have to worry about going too far. If you want to get into the details of what constitutes non-compliance in wellness programming, see Workplace Wellness Programs: The Penalties and Risks of Noncompliance.
LHD: Your Partner for Wellness Program Management Benefits
When you realize how many opportunities there are to improve the health of your employees through data-driven, effective wellness programs, it becomes clear no organization or business can afford to ignore them. The benefits of quality wellness programming also extend beyond each participating employee to their family and the entire community. For additional ideas and information about workplace wellness programming, you can visit the CDC Workplace Health Promotion on the web, as well as the CDC Workplace Health Resource Center. However, if you won’t reap as many wellness program management benefits as possible, please contact LHD to learn more about how we can help.