Wellness ArticleProviding wellness programs can help improve employee health, but beware of these five clues that could indicate you’re headed in the wrong direction.  




5 Mistakes That May Sabotage Your Wellness Program Efforts

Wellness appleWith improved incentives offered through the Affordable Care Act, employers are finding renewed motivation to develop and implement workplace wellness programs. According to Towers Watson, currently 50 percent of large companies have an articulated health and wellness strategy, and 94 percent of those who haven’t already developed a plan will do so in the next three years.

“Organizations understand that providing wellness programs can contribute to improving employee health, and the desire to reduce health care costs is a consistent theme as costs continue to escalate,” says Jen Piliero, Sr. Product Manager at Ceridian LifeWorks.

Piliero adds, “Organizations are trying everything from offering consumer-driven health plans to subsidizing a wellness program in an effort to bring down some of these costs and reduce the impact to their bottom line.”

Wellness chart

As you continue down the road of improving employee health and wellness, it’s important to routinely step back and evaluate your strategy and results. Without adequate reflection, your wellness program may not be achieving the intended results. Below are some indications that you might be headed in the wrong direction.

Five clues you could be sabotaging your health and wellness program efforts

1)      You’re ignoring the whole person (i.e., their emotional, physical and financial health).

Often wellness programs support the more obvious physical well-being challenges, such as weight loss, tobacco cessation and healthy eating. If you peel back the layers, however, it frequently becomes apparent that there are other emotional, mental or financial challenges that may also contribute to a person’s physical health.

Employers who focus on offering holistic employee support can more effectively meet the different layers of employees’ needs. For example, integrating your wellness program with an employee assistance program (EAP) connects your employees with trained consultants who know which questions to ask to address bigger issues. EAP counselors are uniquely skilled and trained to support long-term behavior change.

2)      You’re thinking only about one health status metric.

Today’s health system is designed to categorize patients as either healthy, at-risk or sick. Programs then attempt to solve for those top-of-mind concerns. Conversely, by focusing on more of a consumer-centric approach, you’re better able to consider a range of potential issues, such as how income level, social networks, culture, geography and other factors are interrelated and impact each other in the larger health picture.

3)      You’re offering disjointed services where employees must reach out to several different people to get the help they need.

When employees have to call one number for wellness help, one number for financial help and yet another number to talk to someone about other stressors in their life, you may be inhibiting them from reaching anyone at all. By simplifying your program management, you can direct your employees to one phone number where they’ll have one point of contact and receive coordinated support for any EAP or wellness related issue. Simplifying the process saves time and energy for everyone while eliminating barriers to obtaining assistance

4)      You are force-fitting incentives and/or program offerings to meet your needs vs. your employees’ needs.

If your incentives are becoming stale, consider dynamic approaches to innovate and offer new programs and services that your employees find valuable. One solution is to simply ask your employees what offerings would motivate them to participate in programs.

5)      You are complicating access to employee resources.

If employees have to dig for resources and tools to help them live healthier lives, the effort will quickly lower the goal’s priority. Employers need to offer simple, one-stop access for all EAP and wellness tools, whether it be telephonic or online support. And these resources must be accessible in whatever form best meets employees’ needs – online, on paper, or on a mobile or wearable device. Easy, flexible access translates to greater program utilization.

As the workplace adapts to changing employee needs, those companies that are going “back to the basics” and focusing holistically on the employee are finding success. Benefit programs that offer as much integrated support as possible, including EAP and wellness, can help make a real impact on employee health and workplace productivity.

  •          View our infographic on workplace wellness trends
  •          Listen to our webinar replay on integrated EAP and wellness
  •          Learn about Ceridian LifeWorks