There’s a lot of buzz about employers offering wellness programs to employees. But for those unfamiliar with what that includes, let’s answer the question, “What is a wellness program?”
Healthcare.gov defines a wellness program as, “A program intended to improve and promote health and fitness that’s usually offered through the workplace, although insurance plans can offer them directly to their enrollees.” At its core, an ideal program includes activities, resources, tools, and incentives to help employees achieve better health. When we talk about health, we include physical health, mental health, and even financial health.
What’s Included in a Wellness Program?
There’s no perfect answer to what’s included in a robust program. The program an employer offers as part of its greater health and wellness strategy will vary based on a number of things. This includes budget, employee needs, corporate culture, location, and more.
However, all successful programs should include:
- Chronic Disease Management Programs
- Health Coaching
- Fitness Activities and Challenges
- Health Screenings and Assessments
- Weight Loss Guidance
- Financial Counseling
- Emotional Health Resources
- Digital Health and Wellness Resources, Tools, and Education
What Are the Benefits of Offering a Wellness Program?
A successful program can help employees obtain a better way of life – a life that is healthier, happier, and more enjoyable. Healthier, happier employees are more likely to show up to work. They’re also more productive while they’re there. Having a wellness program also shows that you care about their wellbeing and want them to succeed. Additionally, there’s a potential to reduce your health care costs, or at least minimize significant increases.
What Should I Look For When Investing in a Program?
If you don’t already have a program in place, or if you’re looking to change your current offering, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- It’s important to analyze your employee population to truly understand their health and wellness needs to match them with the right resources. This includes looking at claims data, health and lifestyle assessment information, demographics, personal medical history, and social determinants of health. If your program provider isn’t doing this, then you and your employees are missing out.
- Next, make sure there’s digital access to the program. Using the latest technology allows employees to easily navigate resources, engage in activities and challenges, and talk with health and wellness coaches. It also gives them 24/7/365 access to get the help they need, when they need it.
- Finally, the most successful programs have mechanisms for encouraging active and sustainable employee engagement. If your employees don’t participate, you’ll never see your bottom line improve. Look for partners that offer proactive outreach and incentive management for the very best results.