Four Steps For Implementing a Wellness Strategy

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Employers face a difficult conundrum, attempting to attract talent using benefits, engage and retain your current employees, all while reducing healthcare costs. There is a significant need for cost savings, as chronic illnesses account for 75 percent of all health care costs and depression and obesity are the top two chronic health conditions driving health-related costs for employers.

Employers can attempt to address these critical needs simultaneously using a wellness strategy, which typically has a ROI of $1.50-$3 per dollar spent over a two- to nine-year timeframe and ensures a company workforce is both healthy and happy. By placing a focus on employee wellness, employers often see increased productivity, decreased healthcare expenses and improved employee morale, to list a few benefits.

Below are best practices for developing and implementing a wellness strategy, which can help companies ensure their program is successful and tailored for their organization’s specific needs.

Actively engage a company’s leadership team

It’s important that company leaders, including C-suite executives, not only buy into employee wellness programs, but also participate in them. By truly engaging in a company wellness program, whether through challenging someone in a walking competition or motivating others to increase their water consumption, company leaders can act as an X-factor to encourage employee participation company-wide.

Instead of simply making employee wellness activation available, company leaders should lead by example to make their employees healthier physically and mentally.

Provide meaningful incentives for employee participation

Intentional incentive design is key for employee wellness engagement. Incentives should act in alignment with company goals, whether that’s related to finances, culture or growth, to show employees that their health is of the utmost importance to employers.

An as example, OurHealth co-developed an incentive plan with a client to create improvement-focused goals to mitigate their employee population issue of high Body Mass Index (BMI). Decreasing BMI helps the employer decrease other serious health conditions which are often associated with being overweight, including stroke, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and heart disease.

Sample meaningful incentives include a discount on an insurance premium or a contribution to an HSA, but they aren’t limited to being healthcare specific. Employers can utilize gift cards, prizes or even tickets for events, concerts or festivals as a method for motivating employees.

Build a work environment that supports wellness

For employees to actively participate in a wellness program, employers must keep wellness top of mind and make healthy choices the easy choices for employees. Fortunately, there are several ways to instill this in a company’s DNA.

Stock healthy food in the kitchen, make water readily available, provide a bicycle post, post signs near the elevator about the health benefits of taking the stairs, and encourage meetings that take place while walking outside instead of in the company conference room.

To further develop a strong work environment, many wellness programs now address topics such as mental health and emotional wellbeing as well, and often extend the program to impact the health of spouses and dependents.

Communicate consistently with employees

Clear, ongoing communication with employees about health topics is essential for implementing a successful wellness program. Employers should develop communication plans based on the specific needs of their population, with the applicable message and method custom-made for each organization. Strong wellness programs weave company messaging into as many communication platforms as possible including any internal communications, on a flyer in the break room, during annual benefits enrollment meetings or within monthly corporate newsletters. The options are endless!

Companies can and should implement successful wellness strategies to increase employee wellbeing and save on healthcare costs. Utilizing the above best practices will help attract talent, engage employees and reduce overall costs.

Kisha Alexander is the Director of Wellness at OurHealth.

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