Why Wellness Works

yoga.jpgDoes your business have a wellness program? Have you ever had a wellness program? Mistakenly, some business owners are not fully convinced that a wellness program has any distinct advantage.  One of the biggest concerns from employers regarding wellness programs has to do with the costs associated, and the amount of time off required to make the program successful.  Employers should pay attention to the fact that inactive employees can cost as much as $1,500 or more per year as compared to active employees.  The best way to get employees active is through some level of employee wellness.

Here are some interesting facts about employee wellness:  “Employee absenteeism is reduced when wellness programs are implemented.  In a study at Prudential Insurance, disability days were 20 percent lower and disability-per-capita costs were 32 percent lower after implementing a wellness program.  In addition, annual medical costs fell by 46 percent.” (St. Louis Business Journal). The Center for Disease Control says that 27% of medical claims can be tied to patient inactivity. Experts tell us that a dollar investment can return over three dollars in medical cost savings.

What Are the Advantages of a Wellness Program?

Wellness programs offer many benefits for employers, some of which are listed below.

  • Reduction in sick days of up to 25%.
  • Reduced employee turnover.
  • Wellness programs allow for employee comradely.
  • Happier employees.
  • Employees tend to be more engaged in the workplace through wellness programs.
  • Healthier employees tend to file fewer workers’ compensation claims.
  • Studies show that wellness programs reduce healthcare costs.

There are also many advantages to employees, some of which are listed below.

  • Wellness programs lower employee on-the-job stress.
  • Employees will be more engaged in the workplace.
  • Wellness programs help manage weight control.
  • Many wellness programs help employees stop smoking.
  • Helps the employee be more connected to the business in general.

One common myth we want to dispel is that wellness programs must be expensive to work.  That is just not true. Employee wellness programs do not have to cost a lot or take up an inordinate amount of an employee’s time to be effective.  Employee wellness programs do need to have a few items in order to be successful and these are:

  1. Management must be committed and supportive of the wellness program and process.
  2. Employees need to be involved in the running of the wellness program.
  3. For any wellness program to work it must be convenient for employees and management.
  4. The effective wellness programs have some level of accountability or incentives built in.

 

Examples of Low-Cost Employee Wellness Programs

  • Bring your healthy lunch to work and share it with others.
  • Employee lunch hour walking contest.
  • Promote healthy restaurants in your area.
  • Before work or after work classes.
  • Negotiate corporate discounts for health club memberships. Some health plans offer this as well.
  • Pre-work stretching program.
  • Join a sports league.
  • Start a smoke-free class offered by your health insurer or the American Lunch Association.

 

Here Is a Good Way to Start Your Employee Wellness Program

The first thing to do is to contact your health insurance company.  Most health insurance companies offer some level of wellness support.  They also can provide classes and many other resources for your business.  Your insurance broker can help you make these connections, and be a valuable resource for your business.

Get your employees involved in the process.  Ask them what makes sense for their needs.  You might even survey your employees about their lifestyle to help you determine a course of action.

Start with a simple employee “wellness lunch-and-learn.”  This is an excellent way to introduce the subject and get everyone excited.

Once you have an idea of what your employee wellness program may look like, set a reasonable budget.  Again, it does not have to cost a lot.  For example, consider water bottles with the business’s logo on them.  This is a good way to reduce soda drinking during business hours.  If your business offers snacks or soda, you might re-think the items offered.  There are many healthy alternatives.  Again, this would not cost you anymore, just a re-focus.

There are at least two major standards that you need to be aware of, and with which you must comply.  The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) prohibits discrimination by group health plans based on an individual’s health status.  This means you can’t set up a program that discriminates based on an individual’s health. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), establishes standards to protect the privacy of personal health information, including information that may be collected by some workplace wellness programs.  The ADA includes certain privacy protections.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination based on health status and forbids employers from inquiring about workers’ health status, but makes an exception for medical inquiries that are conducted as part of voluntary wellness programs. (source; KFF.org)

It is also important to utilize your broker as they can offer a great deal of support and help. Leap/Carpenter/Kemps offers a wide range of commercial insurance products and services. Call one of our licensed professionals today. We will make sure your business has the right kind of commercial insurance to best suit your needs.

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