“It takes a village…to run a successful corporate wellness program”

It takes a village…to run a successful corporate wellness program

The popular Nigerian proverb of “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is often paraphrased, however, the meaning is clear. The essential meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The same philosophy holds true when implementing and executing a wellness program. Much like the roles of a mother, father, aunt, uncle and even grandparents when raising a child, employers should incorporate specific roles and responsibilities when considering a deployment of a wellness program to its employees.

Prior to moving forward with launching a wellness program, it is in the best interests of any employer to select employees (and potentially even outside resources) to come together and serve on a wellness committee. With any launch of a major initiative, proper leadership and consistent fostering is necessary to make sure the program is running as planned. A wellness committee should consider (but not be limited to) representatives from human resources, employee benefits and even representatives from the fitness department (if one exists). Consideration may also be given to outside TPAs associated with the employer. For example, if there is a local physical therapy office or even a fitness facility nearby, incorporating representatives from the given examples will contribute towards the overall good of the program.

Once the wellness committee is formed, in the beginning, there should be a number of discussions on the employer’s overall population. A wellness program is only as successful as the outcomes from engagement. Therefore, understanding percentages of demographic data (i.e. age, gender, race, language, locations) will assist when determining what types of programs will address the needs of the population. For example, if a majority of the employees are middle-aged men in manufacturing, perhaps a maternity program would not be best suited. The committee also needs to consider buy-in from executive leadership. If the Chief Financial Officer is skeptical from the beginning, the committee needs to pull together, gather the necessary data and resources to ease the CFO’s reluctance.

Speaking of the CFO, since he or she will be watching for the ROI throughout the existence of the wellness program, the committee will also have to incorporate in early discussions the offering of incentives. Incentives are a major component of the livelihood of a wellness program. As much as any fitness guru who is part of the committee feels overall good health and wellness should be incentive enough (which it should), employees will not view participating in the wellness program as such.

Employees will want a reward for eliminating their nightly cocktail after a long, hard shift. Some of the more popular incentives are premium credits, additional employer contributions to the healthcare spending account, paid time off or even gift cards. Whatever the incentive is, the CFO and the committee should consider all options that will increase employee engagement. Participation will increase with wellness incentives, however, employees will want to track their progress towards their fitness goals along with their points towards incentives. With

Participation will increase with wellness incentives, however, employees will want to track their progress towards their fitness goals along with their points towards incentives. With greater understanding that wellness does assist with decreasing high spikes in claims and increases productivity, a number of online solutions are available to further engage employees in wellness. EbixHealth offers WellnessWorks which does just that. Employees are able to view their biometric and health assessment results on a regular basis along with understanding where they stand with their points towards their incentive. Employees are encouraged to sign up for the many wellness challenges WellnessWorks offers and also use the modeling tools to forecast where they are health-wise if they change certain behaviors.

Compared to the many alternative options to WellnessWorks in the marketplace, WellnessWorks is able to integrate with your already established Benergy site. This, of course, creates an environment of familiarity with Ebix’s dedicated Benergy users.

Once all is established and the corporate wellness program is in full effect, maintaining high levels of engagement is essential to the livelihood of the program. It is incumbent of the committee to meet on a regular basis and to incorporate the wellness vendor into the discussions when reviewing the wellness program. During such meetings, utilization reports, outcome reports, challenge reports, etc. should be reviewed and analyzed. Such reports will determine areas that need to be fixed or areas where participants are really thriving. After the first couple of years, the committee will have baseline data to determine next steps to keep their employees active and engaged. Incorporating a wellness program will contribute towards the overall improvement of employee’s health and the lowering high spikes in medical claims. However, fostering and nurturing the program will lead to continuous employee participation which will provide positive results to the employer’s bottom line.

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