Posts Tagged ‘health and wellness’

The Use of Health and Wellness Rewards Increases

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

New research from Mercer LLC shows a 3% increase in use of carrot style rewards in the context of health and wellness programs. These health and wellness rewards are largely tied to employees’ achieving a certain change or reaching a certain biometric range for preventable conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. According to the research, 23% of large employers are using positive reinforcements as health and wellness rewards.

A Towers Watson study from September also indicates an increase in outcome-based health and wellness rewards, with 18% using them currently and 10% planning to add programs in 2015. While some health and wellness industry professionals believe the days of spot rewards are over, in favor of an organizational shift towards discounting insurance costs, this shift is only being observed by larger firms. While smaller businesses cannot absorb the financial impact of larger policy discounts, spot rewards offer an alternative with the potential to scale up or add larger rewards at a later date.

The increased use of health and wellness rewards at a variety of levels, from small spot rewards like gift cards to large discounts on health insurance, signals a larger trend. Health and wellness programs and health and wellness rewards are becoming a mainstream, integral part of the way benefits and healthcare are delivered from employers to employees. Health and wellness rewards has become a mechanism for employers to make healthcare more affordable for employees, while also ensuring their workforce is healthy and productive, and healthcare is also affordable at the organizational level.

For more information on health and wellness rewards and how they are being used, head over to BusinessInsurance.com.  

Employee Health Keeps Costs Low

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Employee Health & WellnessIt’s the time of year for diets, gym membership renewals and for some, delusions of grandeur about a healthier year. The key is to turn that burst of enthusiasm into long-term healthy habits that help employees fall into routines that are here to stay for the long haul.

Healthy employees miss less work, and are more productive, focused and hungrier to move up and improve. So how can we bring good habits to employees that foster healthier, and ultimately stronger, contributors? The answer is simple. Bring the health and wellness initiative into the workplace.

From zumba classes at lunch and yoga happy hours, to health-conscious gift card reward options like CVS/pharmacy and Whole Foods Market for reaching weight loss goals or maintaining those habits, employee health and wellness is a win-win for the entire company.

While employees get healthier, healthcare costs get reduced for both employees and employers. One example of this is at USI insurance. If employees and spouses agreed to annual biometrics screenings, healthcare costs could drop as much as 30%. While some employees can find these screenings invasive, 89% of USI employees enrolled in the program, finding the discount to be worth the tradeoff of the screenings. The impact that the discount has on employees and their family budgets is significant, and they can attribute that financial relief to their employer.

If that’s not enough motivation to keep those new year’s resolutions, then I don’t know what is. For more information on the impact employee health has on your business and it’s staff, check out this article in the Orange County Register.

Health and Wellness with Balance and Positivity

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

photo_2468_20070711Health and wellness programs have an important place in both current HR practices and in the near future for 2015. In a recent survey by the NBGH and Fidelity Investments, 93% of  employers indicated an increase or maintained funding for wellness-based incentive programs. So it seems health and wellness programs are here to stay, despite some backlash from both employees and industry pundits. There are a few keys to a successful long-term health and wellness strategy, here are a couple of points we think are important to note.

  1. Balance: Employers need to balance the priorities of their health and wellness programs with their employees’ privacy. Requiring invasive testing or asking an enormous amount of personal questions to require entry into a health and wellness program is probably the wrong way to go. Find simple baseline metrics and provide suggestions for additional metrics that employees can track privately if they want to. Keeping the program light and upbeat will lower the barrier to entry and increase participation.
  2. Positivity: In the carrot vs. stick metaphor, always stick with the carrots. Incentives work better as motivators than disincentives. Charging $100 extra on health insurance premiums alienates employees, while offering gift cards to healthy retailers makes employees feel included and encouraged to keep up a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on how to keep your health and wellness program successful and long-running check out articles from NPR and Employee Benefits News.

Loyalty Rewards Trend Toward Health and Wellness

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

healthy_holiday_gift_ideasThis year Maritz Motivation is having their own “12 days of Christmas,” revealing the 12 most redeemed items from their loyalty catalog and trends in electronics buying. 42% of the recent survey respondents indicated that they will redeem loyalty points to fund holiday shopping. What these consumers are buying could indicate large buying trends for the holidays. The first 3 items have been revealed, but one of the overarching themes to seasonal electronics buying could play directly into the health and wellness programs geared toward the early part of next year.

Here are 3 seasonal trends:

  1. Wearable Technology: It seems futuristic in theory, but smart watches, fitness and activity trackers and clothing with wearable technology built in have become increasingly mainstream. This can be looked at as a great way to start 2014, geared up for fitness. It can also streamline employee health and wellness initiatives early in the year and keep people moving. Once they gauge their (in)activity the wearable tech can help them track their progress all year long.
  2. 3D Printers: It’s the new trend. Now still considered a novelty item, these printers have the potential to become more mainstream as they become more affordable and people will invest in them to keep up with the times and bring DIY to a whole new level.
  3. Smart Homes: As we become more connected on all of our mobile devices, people want to stay connected to their houses, no matter the distance. Domestic upgrades now include connecting homes to mobile devices and digitizing functions like the temperature, the lighting and security systems.

For more information on the recent survey or the 12 most redeemed items and the trends they are setting head over to Maritz Motivation Solutions.

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.

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 Entrepreneur.com.

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.

3 Points in Favor of Employee Wellness Programs

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Employee Wellness ProgramEmployee wellness programs work well for a lot of reasons. While they may not be the most scientifically measurable, metrics-based programs, there’s still a lot left to learn about employee wellness programs? These programs are relatively new in the space of human resources and employee benefits and while we don’t claim to know everything, here’s some great points you may find useful:

  1. Healthy employees take fewer sick days. According to the CDC, a healthy weight man misses 3 days of work a year due to illness, where an obese man misses 5. Does 2 days annually make or break a career? Probably not, but if I were a business owner and I knew that employees at a healthy weight were more consistently attendant at work, I would work to help them achieve their weight goals.
  2. People like wellness programs. Access to exercise, convenient health screenings and support or work-out groups bring people together and are seen as an employee perk. Providing access to and support for the tools employees need to get healthy and maintain an healthy lifestyle are a great way to boost morale. Give the people what they want, because the comparative cost can be high.
  3. Measurable benefits do exist. One meta-analysis of a 42 program set of employee wellness programs revealed that at the onset of the wellness programs the organizations experienced a 25% reduction in absenteeism and health costs as well as a 32% drop in worker’s comp and disability claims. These results help to prove the point, employee wellness programs are here to stay and can make a positive impact on your workforce.

If you still need convincing about why employee wellness programs work (or some more skepticism about what we still don’t know) check out this article from Fast Company.

Building Employee Health into Your Culture

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Do You Have Healthy Rewards at Your Company?Employee health and cost of healthcare are relevant to all businesses, regardless of size. Whether you have 2 employees or 200, keeping healthcare costs in check as more provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect is crucial. Making employe health a part of your organization is a great way to ensure these costs remain manageable.

For some employers even the location of the office is a matter of employee health. For a software company in Cedar Rapids, choosing an office on the third floor of a building helps employees get away from their desks during the day; climbing two flights of stairs to get to the cafe to eat. Building fitness into the day is a way for employers to promote behavior that will help control organization costs. This approach can be more sensitive to employees who are unwilling to have either indirect or direct conversations with their employer about their health. For some employees it will be a topic they are unwilling to broach, and employers have to be sensitive to that population of their staff as well.

Other employers take a more direct approach. A biometric screening found that 56% of the young workforce at a Tax Services firm in Dallas were considered overweight. As a result they took steps to change the lifestyles of their employees, offering cooking lessons, health club memberships and health fairs in the office to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Adding spot rewards, like small denomination gift cards to healthy retailers like CVS/pharmacy, Whole Foods Market or GNC, for reaching a goal like losing weight, or completing a 5k is a great way to support more independent employee efforts.

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.