Workplace wellness programs aren't slowing down, with more companies asking workers to take part in the programs to save money in the company's group benefit health plan. However, many companies have taken a rather hard line that makes the wellness program more of a what-were-they-thinking program. In addition to a corresponding drop in employee morale, these wellness programs often don't really show results in earlier years, and what results they have shown have been subject to a form of self-selecting bias -- people already interested in their health may have been more likely to participate. But your company can beat this by creating a wellness program that employees want to take part in, thus helping everyone save money on health in the long run.
Extras, Not Exclusions
Wellness programs often work under the guise of "Participate or say goodbye to any help with your health insurance premium." Those not willing to participate, whether it's because of a lack of interest or time, or because the employee has privacy concerns, find themselves burdened with huge and ever-increasing insurance premiums. They end up seeing doctors less because of the cost, and the monthly chunk of money going to the health insurance company does nothing to help an employee's stress level.
Instead, create wellness programs that are extra. Give everyone the same basic level of health coverage help. It's more important that your workers have coverage they can use than it is to have them participate in weekly weigh-ins. Give employees an extra break for participating, or give them an extra perk like maybe another paid day off. But make it clear that no one gets penalized for not participating.
Wellness programs can't be one size fits all. Someone with hereditary horrible blood pressure shouldn't have to receive constant warnings about something they already know about and might not be able to do much about. Others may not be as concerned about a few extra pounds and may not want to have weigh-ins. Yet those same people may be very interested in things like workplace stretching programs.
Instead of offering one program for everyone—and losing potential participants over the requirements—find out what people would be interested in, and let them take part in those parts of the program. These will seem more like fun activities than health shaming, which is what a lot of health monitoring can unfortunately turn into if you're not careful.
Increased and Obvious Privacy
A major block to getting people to participate is the perception that private health information won't be so private in these programs. Let employees know exactly who is going to see the information, and do not make the info available to anyone else who has no real need for it -- even the company owner or HR manager.
For companies trying to reduce costs in group benefit plans, wellness programs can seem like a good direction to go in. But really saving money means having happy, covered employees who feel valued. Create your wellness program to match that goal. For more information, contact companies like NFP, P & C, Inc.