2 keys to successful wellness programs


Since wellness programs can improve health and lower costs, more employers are partnering with insurers in wellness initiatives. Insurers can implement certain features to build success into their wellness programs, reported Business2Community.

Building effective wellness programs can help companies boost employee morale and productivity. "It can make a difference in the bottom line," Elizabeth Ablah, an associate professor in preventative medicine and public health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, told the Wichita Eagle. She added that healthier employees usually lead to less absenteeism and increased productivity.

And employees are interested in participating in such efforts--one recent study found that 49 percent of Americans were "very willing" to undergo medical tests and lifestyle monitoring by insurers in exchange for lower premiums, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

1. Give real awards for wellness

Effective wellness programs offer real, tangible awards when goals are reached. For example, Nebraska's Lincoln Industries has an award-winning wellness program that gives employees a paid trip to the Rocky Mountains when they reach certain benchmarks, like if they stop smoking or trim their waistline to less than 40 inches. These participants also pay $2,700 less in insurance premiums. Although 200 of the company's 510 employees qualified for the trip in 2013, Lincoln Industries still expects to save $2 for every $1 it spends on the wellness program.

Additionally, wellness programs can celebrate successes by commemorating participants' progress, no matter how small. Making a big deal about achieving certain thresholds can boost employee morale and provide actual results that demonstrate the program's effectiveness.

2. Focus on improvements

Instead of creating one-size-fits-all wellness goals, insurers should focus on improvements that take differences into account. The key to fruitful wellness programs lies in the ability to tailor awards and incentives to each company's culture, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Indeed, a study from the Center for Studying Health System Change listed one-size-fits-all wellness programs among the most ineffective since different employees have different health and wellness goals. So instead of putting all participants into one general category, wellness programs should aim to incentivize improvement for each person, depending on what that means to them.

To learn more:
- read the Business2Community article
- see the Wichita Eagle article

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