4 tips for boosting employee wellness

Wellness Tools

Healthy employees can have a measurable, positive impact on productivity and your overall business. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that after a six-month worksite health intervention that included things such as health education, nutrition counseling and physical activity promotion, average employee annual medical claim costs decreased 48 percent for the 12 months following the intervention. That was a 6-to-1 return on the company’s investment.1

Promoting a healthy lifestyle in the workplace benefits your employees and your company’s bottom line. Here are a few ways to make this a success:

1. Offer a biometric screening.
A biometric screening could open your employees’ eyes to opportunities for improved health and help you tailor wellness programming to meet their needs. Check out our post on considerations for your biometric health screening for tips on making the most of the data you receive, asking your vendor the right questions and more.

2. Consider offering an incentive (which can be big or small).
Incentives for participating in a biometric screening can be just about anything and fit almost any budget. Even smaller prizes can have a big impact, especially if there are multiple winners. Consider cookbooks or fitness prize packs, such as a Pilates starter kit. Giving each participant a small gift, such as a $25 cash incentive, water bottle or contribution to their health savings account, also could generate plenty of interest.

Premium discounts also are a common incentive, and many companies require employees to achieve certain biometric screening outcomes to receive these discounts. For example, if an employee declines in two or more risk factors the following year, he or she will lose the premium discount. Consult your broker/legal advisor to ensure you’re in line with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other applicable laws.

3. Incorporate this screening into a bigger initiative.
By integrating a screening with your wellness program, you can keep the momentum going all year long. For example, give employees opportunities to earn points throughout the year for participating in various activities, such as the biometric screening, health-related lunch-and-learn sessions, on-site health coaching, wellness challenges or by visiting their primary care doctor(s).

4. Communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle to your unique employees.
Explaining why your employees need a biometric screening or sharing relevant tips about wellness depends a lot on your employee population. For example, if your organization consists mostly of younger adults, perhaps the convenience of having a biometric screening on site (and the fact that it’s free!) will have the greatest appeal.

The one thing you can’t forget, no matter who you’re talking to, is your privacy statement or a summarized version of it. It’s important to share that you value your employees’ privacy. Calling out the fact that you only receive aggregate data is one way to explain that.

My philosophy is to engage employees in wellness initiatives that will produce health and wellness improvement across the company and, in turn, lower health care claims and costs while improving productivity and engagement. By communicating with employees about wellness initiatives, they’ll likely be excited about your upcoming biometric screening and, more importantly, making improvements in their overall health.

1Milani RV, Lavie CJ. Impact of Worksite Wellness Intervention on Cardiac Risk Factors and One-Year Health Care Costs. Am J Cardiol. 2009;104(10):1389-1392. doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.07.007.

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