Is Your Wellness Program Actually Creating Healthy Employees?


As we move into 2016, health will be on everyone’s mind as they set intentions for the New Year. It is time to ask a few questions:

    • What does wellness mean to our organization?
    • What are our wellness objectives: reduce healthcare costs, attract and retain talent, help our people live, work and lead better or something else?
    • What’s our wellness strategy and how well are we doing?

According to Aetna, employer healthcare coverage costs are projected to rise 8% per year through 2021. For most organizations, this increase is significant and can be the catalyst for placing more resources and time into determining the best strategy to minimize those costs.

Participation rates for corporate wellness programs on average hover around 25%. What if your wellness program did more? What if your wellness program actually transformed your company culture by creating a foundation of health, increased levels of productivity and peak leadership performance?

Here are some thoughts for how that vision can become a reality.

Top 5 Ways to Transform Your Company’s Wellness Program

  1. Leadership MUST walk the talk—The Society of Human Resource Management published an article that revealed when senior managers truly embrace wellness programs personally, overall wellness program participation rates dramatically improve and company healthcare costs decrease. Why? Leaders set the tone for the culture of the organization.
  2. Behavioral Change Matters—We often believe that information and motivation alone can create sustainable change. If that were the case, everyone would have a solid foundation of health. True change only happens when we go deeper to find the vision that inspires action. Tools such as one on one coaching and group support can create lasting lifestyle transformations as opposed to short term and inconsistent results.
  3. Positive Motivation—Are you using fear or inspiration to drive participation in your wellness programs? For people to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes, they need to feel safe. Attaching financial implications to whether an employee participates in wellness programs is proving to be counter-productive. Consider that according to EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, a top reason that employees decline to participate is the fear that their company will use personal health information against them.
  4. Is Your Environment Set Up for Success?—How often have you been to a meeting that serves sugary foods to boost concentration and productivity? When we talk about transforming cultures, we must look at all of the day-to-day actions a company chooses to take to support employee wellness. A company can take small steps that make a big impact, for example, hold walking meetings, offer healthy snack options, and start meetings with a few minutes of silent reflection.
  5. Are You Looking at the Whole Person?—Wellbeing is about the entire person: mind, body and spirit. Health isn’t only about eating healthy and exercise. Aspects such as stress management, rest and rejuvenation and connecting with one’s values and beliefs are just as important to sustained peak performance at work.

Start the year with an honest look at what is working and what kind of wellness experience you are creating for your workforce. Companies such as Google, Aetna and Tom’s are not only viewed as some of the best places to work, but also they are reaping the financial rewards of having a healthy workforce. Join them!