Ten Steps Toward Strategic Employee Wellness Programs
The Employee Wellness Plan management world is evolving rapidly. Each month,
there are new research findings that support the premise that Employee Wellness
Programs and disease management have a long-term impact on health care costs.
Many large organizations that started Employee Wellness Programs three to five
years ago are showing savings in health, disability, and workers compensation
costs. Small to mid-size organizations are watching all this and wondering where
to start with wellness.
Getting upper management support and budget approval is one of the challenges
at the beginning of a Employee Wellness Program. This is the case because Employee
Wellness Programs can be expensive, averaging $150-300 per staff member per
year in large organizations. Most of the savings are not realized for a number
of years. This long-term investing is hard for organizations on the move.
The key to success for Employee Wellness Programs is to take a strategic approach.
Here are ten steps to consider when starting a Employee Wellness Program.
- Start with upper management. Without upper management support, a health
promotion strategy can fall flat. Start with the health of your executive
team and discover your wellness champions at the top of the corporation.
- Analyze the problem. Look at your health care claims and analyze the trends.
Which conditions are driving your medical, disability, and workers’
compensation claims and which are modifiable? What’s worked and what
hasn’t thus far? What is the long-term impact of doing nothing?
- Hold an initial wellness meeting. Invite your key stakeholders both inside
and outside the corporation. Ask your broker to facilitate the meeting and
invite key health vendors including health, disability, Employee Assistance
Program (EAP), fitness, and occupational nursing. Review claims and utilization
data and establish key areas of concern. Look at current offerings and see
how they can be tailored to the needs of the population. .
- Consider both healthy and unhealthy employees. Since 85% of claims are usually
attributed to 15% of claimants, it is essential to reach those with the most
costly conditions while also reaching employees who are at risk for developing
preventable diseases in the future. Voluntary Employee Wellness Programs such
as lunch & learn wellness seminars miss many of the employees who need
them most. Consider initiatives that are population-wide or target intact
workgroups. Wellness incentives help but do not motivate everyone.
- Establish short-term goals for the Employee Wellness Programs. Establish
some realistic short-term goals based on your key areas of concern. Are there
any plan design changes that could have an immediate impact on spending? Are
there some programmatic actions that could have immediate results?
- Find out what employees are thinking. Hold some focus groups to determine
where employees are with wellness. What’s working? What isn’t?
How much interest do employees have in the Employee Wellness Programs? What
obstacles and barriers are employees experiencing when they try to change
- Ensure that you have a high-impact Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Your
first wellness dollars should go into upgrading your Employee Assistance Program
(EAP). A highly utilized Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide a foundation
for all of your future wellness activities. A good Employee Assistance Program
(EAP) is a trusted link to the hearts and minds of employees. At no additional
cost, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide needed follow-up coaching
and individual attention for employees who are working on modifiable health
behaviors or involved in disease management initiatives. Nutritionists, fitness,
pregnancy, and stress management specialists are all part of a high-value
Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Establish three to five year goals for health care savings and measure
them. Get help from your broker and insurance carrier help you on long-term
goals for your health, disability, and workers compensation plans. Create
program metrics that will help you to measure ROI. Go beyond participation
rates, completion rates and program satisfaction. Measure changes in readiness,
changes in behavior, and changes in risk factors. Create rigorous methods
to measure health care savings over the long term.
- Establish goals for organizational health. Consider the more intangible
benefits of a wellness initiative and quantify them whenever possible. Include
staff member turnover rates, cost of new hires, staff member morale, benefit
satisfaction data, and employer of choice issues in setting goals. Create
ways to measure success in these areas.
- Add specifics to your short and long-term plan. Include a Employee Wellness
Plan strategy, a communication strategy, and a Employee Wellness Plan incentive
strategy that will fit with your business culture. Focus on integration of
related components along a health continuum with communications that are focused,
simple, and human. Create a budget that includes key components such as consumer
education, health promotion, health risk assessments, and regular biometric