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Conquering the Challenges of a Wellness Program

October 19, 2011 | Leave a Comment

line of happy employees

Today’s business environment is challenging and employers need all the help they can get to remain competitive and profitable. Employers are looking for ways to cut costs, and health care costs are often an area to find savings for most businesses. Wellness research is still in the infancy stages, but the growing body of evidence seems to indicate the savings from a wellness program come not only from containing direct medical costs, but an increase in productivity, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover and recruiting cost and improved employee morale. When implementing a health and wellness program many employers face some challenges that are fairly easy to overcome.

Challenge: Employee Engagement
• Getting employees engaged in health and wellness programs can be a challenge. The one-size-fits all philosophy does not work with wellness because health is individualized. Some people may want to meet regularly to lose weight, whereas others may need stress management services, smoking cessation programs. We see programs fail when they are not aligned with what the employee’s want.
Challenge: Wellness is Expensive
• Employers are often fearful of the costs associated with implementing a wellness program because they don’t see how it will help them control direct medical costs. There are many low cost ways to implement a wellness program by leveraging carrier resources or other low cost resources within the community. The end the question should be how much will it cost by NOT investing in a wellness program?
Challenge: High Employee Turnover Rate
• Employee turnover is expensive! 40% of US workers change jobs every five years. By implementing a wellness program you can reduce turnover through employee loyalty. Company sponsored workplace wellness programs send a clear message to employees that management values their well-being.
Challenge: Wellness Takes Time• To encourage employees to participate wellness needs to be made convenient to them; this often means allowing time during the work day. While this may initially impact short-term productivity in the long run healthier and happier employees will be less likely to miss work and more productive when they are at work. Research by Goetzel et al suggests presenteeism costs are higher than medical costs in most cases by 18-60% depending on the medical condition.

Businesses who implement wellness as a core value will reap the distinct competitive advantage of having a healthy, high-performance workforce.

Anderson, D. Give Your Benefits a Boost With Wellness. CDHC Solutions. 2009 May.
Goetzel, R. et al. Health, Absence, Disability, and Presenteeism Cost Estimates of Certain Physical and Mental Health Conditions Affecting U.S. Employers. J Occup Environ Med. 2004:46:398-412
Nicholson, S. et al. How to Present the Business Case for Healthcare Quality to Employers. 2005 November
Taggart, N. A New Competitive Advanctage. Benefits & Compensation Digest. 2009 June.

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