Health care costs are on the rise. In fact, employers’ anticipated total health care costs will reach $12,136 per active employee in 2013, which is a 5.9% increase in total costs from 2012.[i] With these continually-rising rates, organizations of all sizes are searching for ways to minimize health care expenses while still offering quality benefits. Wellness programs have served as one of the solutions to this predicament, allowing many companies to offer employees tools for improving their health and reducing risks. 

5 Strategies to Move your Wellness Program from Good to Great

Apple.jpgHealth care costs are on the rise. In fact, employers’ anticipated total health care costs will reach $12,136 per active employee in 2013, which is a 5.9% increase in total costs from 2012.[i] With these continually-rising rates, organizations of all sizes are searching for ways to minimize health care expenses while still offering quality benefits. Wellness programs have served as one of the solutions to this predicament, allowing many companies to offer employees tools for improving their health and reducing risks.

When determining how much to allocate to a wellness program, organizations should dedicate 1/3 of the budget to incentives.

While implementing a wellness program is the first step toward creating a healthier workforce, this initiative cannot be successful without an effective strategy for promotion and utilization. During a recent HR.com webinar, experts from Ceridian LifeWorks and Cerner Wellness provided HR professionals with tools and tactics for engaging employees in long-term health habits. Specifically, they discussed five key strategies for a successful wellness program.

“While wellness programs are the future of health care cost containment, many organizations struggle to develop programs that appeal to the workforce and address their specific health concerns,” said Jen Piliero, senior product manager for Ceridian LifeWorks. “An effective strategy supporting the wellness program will help the organization create a vibrant culture and experience happier, healthier and more productive employees.”

Strategies for a Sustainable Wellness Program

  1. running shoes.jpgGain executive support. Impactful wellness programs must be integrated into a company culture that supports and encourages healthy lifestyles and choices. This culture, however, will struggle to develop without the support of the executive leadership team. To gain this support, discuss with company leaders the anticipated return on investment of the wellness program, along with the elements that will bring about positive health changes in the population.

  2. Understand your population. An effective wellness program takes into consideration the demographic and health risk data of the company’s health care population, including employees, spouses and dependents. This information should be used to customize the wellness program and engage people in the initiative. By using this insight strategically, you’ll be able to facilitate greater interest, excitement and sustainable participation in the wellness program.
    In the U.S., 44% of companies offer a wellness program to employees. 2013 Aflac Workforces Report
  3. Focus on behavioral change. In order to make your program compelling to participants, you must focus on elements that will naturally foster behavioral change. Ensure that the program is convenient for individuals to learn about and use. It is also important that the strategies you employ are built on a collaborative/motivational model. The program must provide flexible options that allow individuals to pick methods that will work for their lifestyle. This customizable approach will help foster intrinsic motivation and inspiration.

  4. Communicate and incent. A wellness program without participants is a wasted endeavor. To effectively promote the program to your population, use a variety of engagement access points, including websites, printed materials and mobile applications. Additionally, be sure to develop an incentive structure that resonates with individuals. Since one-third of your program budget should be allocated toward incentives, be intentional about promoting these rewards and ensuring that they are appealing and worth the effort required to earn them.

12-13 Wellness Picture 2.jpg

  1. Assess and modify. Companies dedicated to wellness must continually review and evaluate their program with a critical lens. On a regular basis, schedule a wellness team meeting to discuss areas for improvement and modifications that will help keep the program fresh. While constant evaluation is important, keep in mind that it will be at least a year before you’ll see indicators of the program’s success or failure.

“By following these five tips, organizations will be able to transform their wellness program into a strategic tool that has the power to contain health care costs, improve productivity and strengthen employee health. The positive impact of your wellness program will reinforce the value of this ongoing investment,” Piliero said.

For more information:

  • View our Wellness Strategies Infographic
  • Learn about Ceridian LifeWorks Wellness services

[i] 2013 Reshaping Health Care Report – Towers Watson