Archive for the ‘Health & Wellness’ Category

Use Rewards In Employee Wellness Programs

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Employee Wellness Program

There are a few key factors to a successful employee wellness program. The folks at the Lane Report have boiled it down to three. Are you driving your program with these components? If not, it may be time to adjust.

  1. Manage by Reward, Not Punishment: In the age old discussion of the carrot and the stick, this group votes (as many do) to manage through carrots. Promoting a program through rewards will make the program positive and seem more voluntary, while maintaining comparable engagement rates.
  2. Be an Effective Motivator: Your employee wellness program should motivate employees through clear goals and communication, and the best motivator, peer leadership. If you identify a few employees who are willing to be “ambassadors” for the program from management to employees they will create a peer-to-peer environment that can be the ultimate motivator.
  3. Keep Technology Simple: However you choose to track your program, whatever software you give your employees access to, keep it simple. There are a number of platforms and programs to use and we aren’t in the business of endorsing any of them. Whatever you do, keep it simple so your staff doesn’t get lost in the technology. Don’t limit the reach of your employee wellness program by overcomplicating it.

5 Steps to a Successful Employee Wellness Program

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

An employee wellness program is a great way to boost employee health and increase the organization’s bottom line. Here are five key steps to make sure your employee wellness program is as successful as it can be through the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

  1. Develop a Plan: Write a strategic plan with specific tactics and goals. This will help your employees understand the program and it will keep your whole team on track to achieve specific goals.
  2. Get Executive Buy-In: Getting executives on board and participating in your program will create a culture of leadership by example. If executives and managers get involved, their teams will be more motivated to do the same.
  3.  Establish Wellness Champions: Think of wellness champions like team captains. They can be any level of seniority but they should be involved in planning activities that are incorporated in the wellness program. It can give junior employees leadership roles and a chance to lead their colleagues while building camaraderie across teams.
  4. Gather Data: Get feedback and take biometric renderings. This will show if the workforce is engaged in the wellness program, so you can then find out what adjustments need to be made to maximize success and to make sure your staff is actually getting healthier.
  5. Evaluate: Ongoing measurement and evaluation will be critical to making adjustments and improvements in your program. Remember that evaluation should be ongoing, not a one time event.

For more information on how to maximize the impact and success of your employee wellness program, check out this article from

Employee Health and Wellness Without Overstepping

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Carrots and sticks are a relatively old tactic in employee health and wellness programs. They are tried and true because they work. Carrots tend to prove to work better than sticks, but whether you choose to reward improved behavior and program engagement or provide (usually financial) disincentives for a lack of participation, these detractors and rewards work well to boost participation and results from employee healthy and wellness programs.

However, in analyzing effective tactics for employee health and wellness programs, we often overlook the most basic component of an employee health and wellness program. To be frank, it can feel intrusive for employees to have employers involved in their healthcare. Especially when dealing with sensitive topics like high cholesterol and weight loss, it can be intrusive for some employees to have employers involved, even if they are providing health care and insurance.

In a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 62% of employees felt it was inappropriate for employers to require workers to pay more for their health insurance premiums if they don’t participate in wellness programs.

Additionally 74% said companies shouldn’t charge higher premiums if employees don’t achieve predetermined health goals. These two statistics bring employers back to basics and really require organizations to evaluate how they approach employee health and wellness programs. Will carrots or sticks work best for your company? Should employee health and wellness be a (strong) suggestion or a requirement for affordable coverage? Read more from the Wall Street Journal.

3 Tips to Improve Your Employee Wellness Program

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Employee wellness programs are a great way to create a culture of fitness while controlling healthcare costs. Employee wellness programs make employees healthier, more productive, and generally happier. It can be as simple as endorphins. For employers, wellness programs help build organizational culture, peer-to-peer relationships and a grateful, healthy staff.

Here are three areas to focus on to help build your employee wellness program into your organization.

  1. According to Information Week, 5-10% of your workforce is spending 70-80% of your healthcare budget. Focus on that 10%. Targeting their demographic and lifestyle with your wellness program will allow you to tailor the program to a smaller section of your workforce to have the largest financial impact.
  2. Create a third party liaison to provide advice, guidance, and boundaries to the program. Whether it’s a healthcare professional who can monitor employee progress while indicating employer implications, or someone on staff who can also remain impartial to both points of view.  Every program needs boundaries and someone who can advocate for both employers and employees.
  3. When engaging participants in your employee wellness programs, set employee expectations appropriately. Communication is key and ensuring employees know what the goals of the program are and what key milestones they will be expected to reach is key to any program’s success.

Employee wellness programs can be a powerful tool when they are at peak effectiveness. Ensure your employee wellness program is on track today.

Wellness Programs Should Save Employees Money

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Working on and measuring savingsThe headline speaks for itself here. Employee wellness programs should save employees money, while also instilling healthy habits. A recent New York Times article suggests that, for most employers, wellness programs save money but only by penalizing employees for unhealthy behavior or bad biometric readings. This is entirely possible. Especially since the Affordable Care Act doesn’t have a structure in place allowing employers to levy financial penalties against employees who are outside of a healthy range.

However, if you’re going to spend the time and resources to implement a health and wellness program wouldn’t you rather invest in employee success rather than save a buck in their failure? Using a structured, well communicated program and small spot rewards is a recipe for mutual success between employee and employer. Using small denomination gift cards to healthy retailers like Whole Foods Market, CVS/pharmacy or Nutrisystem encourage employee participation and provide employer support of employees lifestyle efforts.

Focus on mutual successes with your employee rewards program because if employers win and employees lose the retention and engagement benefits of a truly successful employee wellness program will be lost. An initial investment can pay dividends in the longer term.

Health Care Facilities Focusing on Food with Brands Like SUBWAY

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Subway restaurants are located in health care settings nationwide.

Photo courtesy of QSR Magazine, “Just What the Doctor Ordered” article

We’ve already seen a move towards healthier food options in schools and in the corporate world, but now America’s health care facilities are taking a renewed focus on the food they offer patients, visitors and their staff. Many hospitals are unable to afford the expense of keeping their cafeterias open in the late-night and early-morning hours, relying heavily on quick-serving brands. Taking that into account, many are opening up a new revenue stream by leasing restaurant space. But not just any quick-serve brands will fit this spot, hospitals are looking for the right quick-serve brands; meaning one that is focused on, what else, health.

One such quick-serve that has already been a staple in this space for some time is SUBWAY. They are leading a movement towards health that health care systems and hospitals alike are striving towards.

SUBWAY’s emphasis on fresh vegetables, sandwiches meeting the American Heart Association approval, and its recent elimination of undesirable ingredients make it an ideal candidate for the health and wellness movement inside these healing facilities.

With a high demand for healthy options, the space for healthier options continues to grow, with hospitals offering a better selection in cafeteria lines and food courts, as well as in vending machines and convenience stores.

To learn more about what these health care facilities are doing to improve food selection check out the article from QSR, “Just What the Doctor Ordered,” here.

Creating Specific Employee Health Goals

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

f4429a1a0a658cb0f0b6a1849e15ae8a_SEmployee health programs are still rising at a rapid rate. According to a recent Towers Watson survey 48% of employers are testing employees biometrics as part of an employee health program, compared to only 14% of employers doing the same 4 years ago. Using specific biometric goals like losing a certain amount of weight or lower cholesterol by a certain percentage is a tangible way to lower costs for both employees and employers.

Offering incentives for voluntary participation in programs like this are a great way to help employees reach goals and make long term healthy choices that help your organization and their well-being. Providing even small rewards like gift cards to healthy retailers like CVS/Pharmacy, GNC and Whole Foods Market provide the support and boost employees need to stay the healthy course and meet their goals.

On the flip side, employers’ other option to boost participation in employee health programs is to apply disincentives, or financial penalties on employee premiums for healthcare. While this is permitted, research has shown that providing positive incentives (carrots) rather than penalties (sticks) are more effective in nurturing employees to health rather than threatening change.

Wearable Devices in Your Corporate Wellness Program

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Wearable devices are becoming a growing trend in the fitness community and now for employers looking to track their corporate wellness programs. Wearable technology provides a unique opportunity for both employees and corporate wellness program administrators to track participants’ progress in real time. Here are a few ways incorporating these “wearables” into your corporate wellness programs can boost its effectiveness.

  1. Create Team Challenges- Use the real-time data to create fun team challenges. Can the marketing team take more steps in a week than the IT team? Program administrators can track progress and bolster competitiveness within the office. The competitiveness can become loftier wellness goals for all teams involved in the challenge.
  2. Make “Wearables” Part of Company Culture- Providing a wearable fitness tracking device to participants of your corporate wellness initiative has the capacity to boost participation and get employees engaged with the program on a day-to-day and even hour-by-hour basis.
  3. Use Incentives for Participants- Providing nominal incentives, like small denomination gift cards to healthy retailers like Whole Foods Market, GNC and CVS/pharmacy can give employees a boost in a healthy direction. Promoting wellness by example is a productive way to boost participation and level of commitment.

For more ways to promote your corporate wellness program through wearable technology (and vice versa) head over to

Healthy Employee Culture Drives Participation

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

f4429a1a0a658cb0f0b6a1849e15ae8a_SInitial engagement in employee health and wellness programs doesn’t always drive long term participation like healthy employee cultures. While new employee health and wellness programs often drive short term engagement through the first few months, or maybe even the first few years, creating healthy employee champions and a culture of wellness is what creates long term employee participation.

Providing non-cash rewards as a component to a healthy employee culture is a great way to drive long term participation. One example of this was offering a discount in the employee portion of the health insurance premium which almost doubled employee participation in Herman Miller Co’s employee wellness program; jumping from 40% to 79% year over year for the first 3 years, but seeing a plateau in participation levels in subsequent years. Offering small denomination gift cards to retailers like GNC, Nutrisystem and CVS/Pharmacy are another way to promote a healthy employee culture by assisting employees in forming a healthy lifestyle.

Instead of using typical carrot tactics to get employees to change habits, providing an environment for creating a healthy employee culture will provide longer term results that will have a greater impact on your workforce and healthcare costs.

Employee Wellness Programs, Positive Results from America’s Top Universities

Monday, August 25th, 2014

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.