Implement a Successful Worksite Wellness Program

by Robert Beauchamp

Successful worksite wellness programs help improve employees’ health and productivity and reduce medical costs for employees and the company. Here are 10 tips for employers to implement an effective wellness program:

Understand the Company’s Work Force. Review past insurance claims data, employee surveys and health assessments to select wellness programs that address the employees’ most common health challenges.

Create a Plan. Develop a detailed plan that outlines short- and long-term objectives, budgets and expected outcomes.

Include rather than Exclude. Make wellness activities available for all employees and spouses/domestic partners.

Offer Biometric Screenings. Biometric screenings give employees a better snapshot of their current health. Screenings held onsite at the workplace and at health fairs encourage more employees to participate. 

Select Wellness Champions. Set up a wellness committee with “wellness champions” who will help drive the company’s wellness program. Choose leaders within the organization who are respected by their peers. Make champion status an honor, and others will want to serve. 

Provide Employees with Digital Tools. Digital tools (e.g., online, mobile, tablet) help employees keep track of their healthcare costs and become more-informed healthcare consumers.

Communicate. Use email, promotional flyers and in-person meetings to communicate the company’s wellness programs. Messages from executives will demonstrate leadership support and likely improve participation in the wellness program.

Offer Incentives. Participation in wellness programs significantly increases when employers offer employees incentives. Incentives can include gift cards, lower health insurance premiums, cash bonuses and discounts on various health products and services.

Track Results. Evaluate the company’s wellness program each year. Work with the health plan to measure the impact on employee engagement and medical costs.

Solicit Feedback. Be flexible and listen to the employees on how to improve the program for the following year.

Following these tips can help employers and employees maximize the benefit they get out of employer-sponsored wellness programs — and improve the health of the company and its work force. 

Robert Beauchamp is the medical director at UnitedHealthcare of Arizona. 

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