Archive for the ‘Health & Wellness’ Category

CVS Caremark and IBM Announce “Technology Solutions for Smarter Health” Program

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

CVS Charitable Trust logoCVS Caremark, along with IBM, announced a commitment to the “Technology Solutions for Smarter Health” grant program, which is in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.  The $1.5 million contribution supports the use of innovative technology among community health centers to improve patient care as well as increase patient engagement.

These grants are awarded to community health centers across the nation that are in need of technologies that can help people get on a path to better health.  The funds can be used to enhance the current infrastructure, to help the community health centers communicate and share health information with patients through electronic messaging and allow patients the ability to view, download, and transmit their health information online.

There are more than 9,000 community health centers throughout the United States that are providing care to over 22 million people, especially in rural and urban neighborhoods, where the community health centers make access to health care easier and more affordable.  For over 40 years these health centers have been such an integral part of the U.S. health care system, especially for the poor.  Increasing technology capabilities in these health centers can improve the health of populations that are being serviced by the community health centers.

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust has also been involved with awarding grants over the past 2 years to community health centers with “Innovations in Community Health,” which has focused on the treatment of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.  This grant program helped increase access to quality health care and produced better health outcomes while reducing costs for both patients and the health care systems.

Read the full CVS Caremark & IBM press release here!

Use Employee Wellness Programs to Combat Absences

Friday, July 25th, 2014

According to a recent Aon Hewitt survey, most employers do not measure the cost of employee absence in their business. Employee absence and the costs associated can add up to almost 8% of their total payroll in benefits payouts, lost productivity and temporary employee salary. Since most employers see these as a “cost of doing business,” those employers are missing the opportunity to combat the issue head-on.

Employee wellness programs, such as a quarterly weight loss challenge, biometric screenings or a lunchtime walking club can be an easy way to promote wellness in the workplace and avoid employee sick days. Keeping employees focused on their health is, in a way, keeping employees focused on the health of the business and the culture of your organization. Minimizing work stoppage and maintaining continuity are important in maintaining productivity.

When introducing an employee wellness program to a potentially skeptical staff, be sure to communicate the goals and parameters of the program clearly. Adding small rewards like gift cards to healthy retailers like Nutrisystem, GNC and CVS/pharmacy can go a long way in boosting employee participation and bringing co-workers together to focus on employee wellness across the organization. Absences can hurt your business, minimize them by focusing on employee wellness.

Health and Wellness Benefits On the Rise

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

As certain benefit costs shift from employer to employee, there are key benefits that will have a high impact on satisfaction improvements. Health and wellness benefits are expected from employees and they assume that employers are going to cover a significant portion of the costs, regardless of the rising cost of healthcare. Well employers are taking note, 45% are offering HSA’s in 2014, compared to 33% in 2010.

Other benefits like tuition support or a personal car subsidy benefit have been on the decline since 2010, down 13% and 17% respectively. These are benefits less expected by employees and therefore have a lower impact on employee benefit satisfaction. Health and wellness benefits have endured for employees as an expected benefit.

Investing in preventative healthcare checks like blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI measurements for employees can allow employers to maintain health and wellness benefits without exceeding budgets. Implementing employee health and wellness benefit reward programs can also motivate employees towards health and wellness goals by using small spot rewards to encourage employees who have reached health and wellness milestones.

For more information on how to maintain the level of health and wellness benefits your employees expect, check out the latest SHRM Employee benefits report, and this article from Associations Now.

Ten More Tips for a Successful Wellness Program

Monday, July 14th, 2014

We can’t say it enough, a successful wellness program can benefit both employees and companies in drastic ways. With reduced healthcare costs for both employee and company, more productivity at work, and less absenteeism, workplace wellness has been shown time and time again to be a smart investment in a time of rising healthcare costs.

Here are 10 more tips for implementing a successful wellness program:

1. Understanding your workforce: Reviewing items such as prior health insurance claims, health assessments, and employee surveys can help you to understand what concerns your employees have with their health.

2. Create a plan: All programs should have some kind of plan in place, start by developing a plan with both short and long term goals, along with a budget and expected outcomes.

3. Include everyone: Make the plan available to all employees and their spouses/domestic partners.

4. Offer biometric screenings: Many employees do not know the current status of their health. Offering screenings during work time or during company health fairs allow more employees to participate in screenings.

5. Select wellness leaders: Set up a wellness committee with wellness leaders to help drive wellness programs. Choose highly respected employees.

6. Communication: Communicate your wellness program as much as possible with things like, company emails, flyers, and in-person meetings.  Employees can only participate if they know the details.

7. Offer incentives: Gift cards, reduced premiums, cash bonuses and discounts on various health and wellness based incentives (i.e. gym memberships) will significantly increase employee participation.

8. Provide employees with digital tools: Online, mobile, and tablet updates can help employees keep track of their health and healthcare costs.

9. Track results: Assess your wellness program on an annual basis. Assess both the costs benefits with your healthcare provider as well as evaluating employee participation.

10. Solicit Feedback: Remain flexible and listen to your employees. Your employees are your foundation for a solid wellness plan.

Following these tips can help maximize your employer sponsored wellness program.  Thanks to Southern Florida UnitedHealthcare President Nicholas Zaffiris for the tips.

Both the CVS/pharmacy and Whole Foods Market gift cards make perfect incentives for your employee wellness program. Learn more about our corporate gift cards here!

Recommitment to Employee Health and Wellness

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The Consumer Goods Forum, representing 400 Consumer Goods and Retail organizations and over EUR 2.5 trillion in sales, recommitted themselves to employee and consumer health and wellness for the present and well into the future. This organization is particularly interesting because it represents many of the manufacturers who put food on our plates and retailers who we buy those goods from. With this particular trade organization’s committment to both employee health and wellness and end-consumer health and wellness, the influence could be monumental.

Working on and measuring savingsIn two short years, by 2016, the Forum has pledged to not only implement employee health and wellness programs for all member companies, but make policies on nutrition and product formulation public as well. This forum represents some of the largest players in all facets of the consumer goods sector. If their employees are on health and wellness programs that encourage exercise, healthy eating and risk assessments to help combat preventable health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, there is potential for global impact.

Members of the Consumer Goods Forum directly employ 10 million people in 70 different countries. As an extremely influential organization who affects not only their employees, but their seemingly limitless end-customer base, this recommitment to health and wellness could help create a culture of health and wellness worldwide.

Does your organization have a 2-year plan to get your employees either on, or recommitted to health and wellness?

What do you think about the feasibility of the Forum’s statement? Leave us a note in the comments.

Employee Wellness Incentives That Work

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Employee wellness is a hot topic for employers in an environment where healthcare costs are rising and there can be a lot of confusion around new Affordable Care Act rules taking effect. Here are a few ways to ensure that your employee wellness incentives provide the ROI that you seek in investing in employee wellness.

  1. Results-based incentives: Focus on biometrics. Without driving your compliance officer crazy, voluntary biometric readings are a great, concrete, measurable way to incentivize employee wellness. When an employee’s BMI drops, cholesterol decreases, blood pressure reaches a normal range, these are measurable milestones that are worth recognizing with employees.
  2. Incentives for completing an HRA: Getting employees on board is helping your organization reach participation goals and get employees engaged. Health risk assessments are an entry point to employee wellness initiatives and participation should be recognized. A small denomination gift card to a wellness based retailer like Reebok, CVS/Pharmacy, Whole Foods Market or Nutrisystem is a great way to support an employee as they begin their personal wellness initiatives.
  3. Discounts of Gym Memberships: 42% of employees to whom these employee wellness incentives are offered take advantage. To have almost half of your staff taking advantage of an employee wellness incentive is a strong case for an investment that will, over time reduce long term healthcare costs.

For more information on how to effectively engage your employees with employee wellness incentives check out this article from Marketing Innovators.

Employers Offering More Health and Wellness Benefits

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Employers are spending more on health and wellness benefits while decreasing the amount of spending on other types of benefits.  According to the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2014 Employee Benefits report, 28% of employers have increased the benefits they have offered to employees in the last year. Employers are finding it crucial to maintain or increase key benefits in areas where costs are rising – which has mainly been healthcare and wellness. And decrease benefits like undergraduate tuition, personal car use for business purposes reimbursements, and long-term care insurance.

Five-year trends have shown that healthcare costs have shifted away from the employer and more onto the employee. With that shift, more companies are offering health savings’ accounts (HSAs) and contributing to them as well. This year 45% of employers will be offering HSAs, up from 33% in 2010, and 32% of companies will be contributing to HSAs, which more than doubles company contribution up from 15% in 2010.

Employers are spending more on preventative healthcare efforts such as incentive programs for completing health and wellness programs, smoking cessation, and premium discounts for health-risk assessments. These preventative programs can take up to 5 years before the employer can see a difference, but every health and wellness program has shown a return on investment.

Read the full 2014 Society for Human Resource Management’s employee benefits report here! 

Boosting Wellness Program Participation

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Regular medical checkups and tests can help spot issues before they become expensive to treat complications. One Florida school district has launched a wellness rewards points program that has been showing phenomenal results. To obtain a $50 reduction in premium, employees just have to earn 300 points a year, and points are quite easy to obtain.

Points are earned through a variety of health related activities like,

  • 100 points for an online health risk assessment
  • 100 points for blood testing to measure cholesterol and glucose
  • 100 points for a physical, colonoscopy, mammogram, or completing an online coaching program for weight loss, nutrition or stress management

85% of employees in the district now get annual physicals, more than a 50% increase since the launch of the program. More than 16,000 employees now complete an online health assessment, where 6 years ago the number of employees participating was just 25!

The wellness program has had a positive effect on reducing overall healthcare costs for the district. In just two years, hospital admission rates dropped from almost 70 per 1000 to 61 per 1000 (covered employees) and overall monthly medical spending dropped 7% during this same time period. Diabetes is also a primary concern for the district. About 33% of participants have diabetes with additional complications and participants in the diabetes category saw a 39% decrease in medical spending and have saved the school district approximately $6.5 million dollars since the inception of the program in 2011. More consistent care and follow-up has been directly attributed to the rewards program.

While a financial incentive such as a premium reduction will not work for all companies due to legal ramifications, these types of points based wellness programs have been shown to be just as successful with a gift card as an incentive. Gift cards allow employees to choose the rewards that are best suited to their interests and will be most motivating to them. They also take the guesswork out of selecting the proper incentive to reward employees with and many gift cards offer co-branding with a company logo.

GiftCard Partners carries many “healthy” gift card brands that help to enhance your rewards program, including CVS/pharmacy, Whole Foods Market, and GNC!

Click here to learn more!

Employee Wellness Programs Reinvigorated

Friday, June 13th, 2014

In 2012 half of all companies with at least 50 employees had a corporate wellness program that incentivized employee wellness through either direct financial incentives or non-financial recognition. Companies larger than 50 employees were even more likely to have an employee wellness program in place, at 79%. These programs do simple things to prevent avoidable conditions like health risk assessment, weight management and nutrition education.

The investment is a low-risk high-reward endeavor, especially as components of the Affordable Care Act take affect that further encourage employers to implement programs directed at employee wellness. The average investment in wellness has doubled since 2009, skyrocketing from $260 per employee to $594. The 2014 figure is also significantly higher than the $521 average investment made per employee for wellness in 2013.

Employers increased investment and encouragement of employee wellness shows that it is working. Check out this infographic and more great information from Modern Healthcare on where the employee wellness industry is going and growing in 2014 and beyond.

employee wellness industry growth chart

Inside the World of Corporate Wellness

Monday, June 9th, 2014

inside corporate wellnessCorporate wellness programs have become popular in recent years. Simply put, corporate wellness is any health initiative or program within a company that focuses on promoting good health and employee comfort, rather than dealing with poor health and low morale at a later date.

It should come as no surprise that most of the companies on the top 100 companies to work for list, year after year, offer corporate wellness programs. Companies that offer corporate wellness programs are striving, and people enjoy working for them. Not only do companies that offer such programs have happier staff, but they end up doing better financially.  Research shows that for every $1 spent on corporate wellness, a company saves $4 in sick time, health costs and overall work productivity.

Top Corporate Wellness Programs 

Google is regularly on the top 100 companies to work for list. In fact, it has topped the list for several years. It makes sense then, that Google also has one of the most comprehensive wellness programs in the industry. The company offers on-site gyms, healthy eating options in the dining area, fully paid sabbaticals, volunteer opportunities, and health classes and screenings. SAS, a software developer, comes in at number two on the list. The company offers their employees on-site child care and fitness centers, a multitude of medical staff on-site, reimbursed gym memberships, healthy eating options and dietician services. With compressed workweeks, job sharing, 100% health coverage and paid sabbaticals, The Boston Consulting Group comes in at number three on the top companies to work for list. While these three companies are worlds apart in many ways, they share one common factor; solid wellness programs that ensure their staff is working to the best of their abilities.

Creating a Wellness Program 

It is understandable that not all companies are going to be able to offer the same perks as Google. Google is a behemoth in the business world, with untold amounts of money to spare. Smaller companies, clearly, will be unable to procure the “campus-style” structure of Google, nor will they be able to offer the round-the-clock day care services that SAS gives to their workers, but every company can instill a wellness program that is sure to raise productivity and boost morale. To begin a wellness program a company must work to better understand their internal culture. Once the internal culture is understood, a better understanding of what the employees need out of a wellness program will arise. Before you begin a wellness program ask these questions;

  • What do my employees really need out of a wellness plan?
  • What is the corporate culture in my office?
  • What incentive will work best for my employees to get healthy?
  • How can a wellness program best benefit the employees and employer collaboratively?

Once you’ve answered those questions you can begin working out a wellness plan that will work best for your company and your employees. For example, if you can not offer a gym on-site, because you simply don’t have the sprawling campuses that large corporations do, then consider offering gym reimbursement options. Employees who are reimbursed for this expense are more likely to utilize it. If you can’t offer on-call medical staff, consider offering regular screenings at different parts of the year. For example, after the summer offer a skin cancer screening. Prior to the winter months offer a cardiovascular health screening.

Using Gift Cards in Your Wellness Program 

Gift cards can also be used in wellness programs. Gift cards are an easy way for companies that do not have the space, nor resources to allocate to wellness programs to get more involved in the health and wellness of their employees. Gift cards can be used in lieu of a company dining experience. If employees are offered gift cards to healthy eating options they are more likely to use those options, than to stop by a fast food location on their lunch hour. Alternatively, gift cards can be used as incentives for employees to get healthy and be rewarded for it. Gift cards can also be given for pharmacies and other health outfitters that will help your employees get on a healthier track.

The Bottom Line

While not all companies have the space, time or monetary resources, to institute an all-inclusive wellness program, there are plenty of ways to get a wellness program started, even in a small company. In the end, wellness programs are shown to actually save companies money, boost morale and raise productivity. Every company, both large and small can stand to have revenue saved, morale boosted and productivity raised. In the end, it is a win-win situation.