The days of sneaking to the break room to meet those afternoon cookie cravings may be long gone. Employee wellness programs have no doubt grown in popularity and some of America’s top universities, like Cornell, Stanford, Oklahoma State, and The University of Alabama are no exception. Seven universities in all were surveyed for their employee wellness programs and chosen based on their strong, established employee wellness programs in the NIRSA report, Employee Wellness Programs: Collegiate Recreation Trends Research.
The Motivation: The study showed that four primary concerns motivated the establishment of their employee wellness programs: health insurance costs, restructuring, employee productivity, and general improvement of health.
The Components: Similar components were found in many of the universities stemmed from common goals like increasing participation, fostering lifestyle changes, smoking cessation and education. Components included everything from health risk screenings and assessments, wellness workshops, wellness websites and newsletters, release time, physical activity, to smoking cessation efforts and incentives.
Implementation and Engagement: While resource allocation varied across all campuses, most campus-based employee wellness programs were not directly integrated into benefits packages, even though funding sources may be linked. Populations that were targeted also varied across schools; some campuses focused on those least likely to participate, like staff from facilities, while others focused on deans and department heads. Depending on the scope of the program, marketing efforts were also implemented at some schools. To increase participation in all wellness programs, incentive structures were put into place in virtually all schools, with anything from high cash rewards at the end of the year, to gift card rewards for drawing winners and successful program completion.
Overall, the results from the universities surveyed was generally positive. Both Stanford and Cornell characterized their employee wellness programs as “a way of life,” and all of the schools cited the data they’ve taken from surveys and assessments as a basis for measuring employee wellness program success. Positive results were also shown in key areas; in return on investment, health outcomes, job performance, effects on campus, and program sustainability.
Time to start looking closer at your employee wellness program? The findings from these universities can be applied to any corporate wellness program for any organization. Take a closer look at the full NIRSA report here.