Launching An Employee Wellness Program

October 3, 2017

Imagine this: it’s the end of a long week and the CXO pulls you aside and says, “Let’s launch an employee wellness program. Research some vendor options and let’s discuss on Monday.” No problem. There are literally thousands of corporate wellness vendors in US, so you should be able to find a suitable option with little trouble. Right? Wrong as can be. While there are countless vendors in the corporate wellness industry, the programs that they deliver are not the right fit for every organization. In corporate wellness, one size does not fit all. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when developing a wellness program for your organization:

Identify your organization’s wellness program goals.

Are you trying to reduce healthcare costs? Do you want to give employees additional opportunities to engage with their coworkers? Are you seeking to enhance your organization’s culture of wellbeing?

Employers launch corporate wellness programs for a whole variety of reasons. Be sure to discuss your goals before making decisions related to program design and vendor partnerships. Otherwise, you might end up trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Pick the right program structure.

Depending on what your employee population wants and/or needs there are different program structures to consider.

Are you trying to reward employees for simply enrolling in a health management program? If that’s the case, then an activity-based program might be the way to go. These programs reward employees for completing a task or participating in some sort of activity. They are among the most common and include things such as taking a yearly HRA or completing a biometric screening. Although activity-based programs are designed to engage employees, there is not any reward for behavior change.

Are you looking for a specific outcome? Do you want your employees to reach a certain health threshold such as maintaining a healthy BMI, blood pressure or cholesterol levels? If so, rewarding employees through an outcome-based program is probably in your best interest. These programs help to drive behavior change, but the downfall is that goals may be seen as unattainable for some employees.

If you are looking for a program that rewards employees for making meaningful health improvements instead of perfecting health, a progress-based program may best suit your needs. These programs are designed to reward for positive health changes that bring employees closer to their individualized health goals. Unlike outcome-based programs, progress-based programs reward for improvements regardless of overall employee health status.

Budget the right incentive.

Now that you’ve decided the structure of the health program you want to implement,  you need to budget what the incentive is going to be and how you are going to deliver it.

Are you going to tie this program in with employee insurance premiums? Give cash rewards? Put money into a HSA? What makes the most sense when it comes to the company’s budget and what is going to be the most appealing to the employee population?

Pick the right vendor.

Who do you want to work with? What is important? Is it customer service? Philosophy? Company vision? Technology capabilities?

This is a partnership and you have to decide what is important for it to be worthwhile. You are making an investment in both your employees’ health as well as a financial investment. Be sure to weigh all of the pros and cons of a particular company. FIgure out what you want the experience to be and if the company is able to achieve it.

Use the right technology.

How are you going to reach your population? Do you work somewhere that prefers having information given to them in physical form or are you in a more tech savvy environment? Not only do you need to plan on how to inform your employees of the new health program but you need to plan how you want to communicate health results and future program information.

There are multiple options for communicating information. Maybe it is with a mobile app that employees can have on their phones, or a web portal that individuals can login to. If you are in a less computerized environment maybe information is conveyed through printed materials. Maybe it is multiple of these options. Find out the capabilities of the potential wellness partners and if they match up to what you believe is best for your employees.

Maintain the right clinical approach.

Another aspect of a health program that is important to consider is what screenings you want to have. There are guidelines and recommendations for screenings that adults should have on an annual basis. How are you going to pick and choose which screenings you want to provide for your employees and which ones you suggest they go to outside resources for? Be sure that your screening approach aligns with the guidelines issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force. Otherwise, your program might do more harm than good.

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