Although wellness initiatives may benefit the employee and employer in theory, low participation may tank the programs before they ever get off the ground.
If you plan to encourage or implement wellness programs, make sure to play it smart and consider all viewpoints as you begin.
The modern day wellness program
Wellness programs vary from workplace to workplace. Some include financial incentives. Others are simply a glossy flier on the break room table encouraging consumption of apples and oranges.
Workplaces may offer a series of workplace wellness steps like:
- flu shots or blood pressure screening on-site
- nutrition counseling
- health fairs
- financial incentives for working out or joining a gym
- encouragement for stress reduction practices
- assistance toward premiums or deductibles
As an employer, you will encourage employee participation (and sometimes spouses and partner participation.) But, remember the implications of your wellness program depend on your ability to create smart solutions.
Solutions for higher costs for employees
Do you encourage wellness tests? Awesome.
But make it clear who will be footing the bill for those tests.
Do you offer employees funds to pay for the flu tests and cholesterol screenings you recommend? Or, did you negotiate rates with a wellness testing partner to get affordable testing on-site?
Consider the screens or steps you want your employees to take and who is financially responsible for them. If it places a financial burden on the employee that you do not compensate for, do not expect high participation.
Find a way to identify any costs involved and explain the value of the wellness program if it’s asking employees to literally “buy in.”
Higher costs for employers
You also need to consider how the results of wellness testing will be used – proof of unhealthy employees could raise premiums.
Don’t simply encourage testing without also creating incentives to get healthier like diet improvement or added physical exercise. Give incentives to those taking action to get healthier – not just those realizing their unhealthy lifestyles.
Wellness programs are on the rise – many companies have already implemented them – and more are in the works. Don’t be scared off by programs, but make sure you use the results wisely to get the maximum gain for your workplace.
Advice from the field
Take a look at this insightful article by Southern California Public Radio on the state of current workplace wellness programs.
The article touches on the many facets involved in a workplace wellness program:
- Good education and offerings for employees to lead a healthy lifestyle
- Employee privacy issues as employers begin to have a say in an employee’s health
- Financial incentives for participation
- Lack of participation in wellness initiatives among employees
- Forecast of outcome-based wellness programs
Need help with your workplace wellness program?
Workplace wellness – it’s the new thing but it’s certainly not easy. If you need help setting up your workplace wellness plan or offering affordable wellness testing to your employees, find our friends at Test Smartly Labs.
The professionals at each locally-owned Test Smartly Labs can work with you to determine the best approach for your workplace wellness and how to offer smart solutions that keep employees healthy and costs down.