Health Coach Speaking to Employee

Employer Solutions | 2 years ago

Create a Robust Employee Wellness Program

5 Things to Consider When Planning Your Wellness Program

By Dan Birach, president, Carolinas HealthCare System HEALTHWORKS Division
Each year around the holidays, employees make their health insurance coverage selections for the coming year. For employers, this open enrollment period can be one of the most critical times of the year, both from a business and an employee engagement perspective. Looking purely at hard costs, healthcare spending can be one of the largest single expenses for a business, next to payroll. Ensuring employees are educated on the best options for their needs and health – and not signing up for benefits that are not a good fit for their personal situation – can help keep these costs down. Connecting employees with proactive services such as coaching and screenings can also help lower costs by detecting and managing chronic health issues before they turn into larger, more expensive issues.

Beyond dollars and cents

Employers also need to look at open enrollment season from an employee engagement perspective. Just as employers are feeling the pinch from rising costs, individuals are facing higher bills with seemingly reduced benefits. Add in the rapidly evolving marketplace of healthcare options, such as high-deductible plans and health savings accounts, your team will likely feel a heightened level of anxiety around their decisions. Ensuring your human resources team provides plenty of resources and opportunities for employees to ask questions about their benefits plan will go a long way toward reducing this angst.

Keep these tips in mind as you enter open enrollment and begin planning your compensation and benefits options for the coming year:

  • The Return on Investment of Healthcare Investment – In many ways, the dollars you invest in your employees’ health can return to your bottom line several times over. Statistics show that for every dollar an employer invested in areas such as wellness programming and disease management, they enjoyed an ROI of anywhere from $1.50 to $3.80. Healthy employees are more productive and miss fewer days. In addition to traditional health insurance, health coaching, nutrition counseling, onsite clinics and virtual healthcare are all new tools that can help your team stay healthy.
  • Establish Your Baseline – Biometric screening programs offer two immediate benefits. For employees, these quick checkups can help identify potential health issues and provide advice on how to treat or manage chronic health conditions so they can enjoy a healthier lifestyle. For employers, these screenings provide a baseline of health for your company. This may be able to reduce your costs if you are able to demonstrate a healthier-than-average team or improved health among your team members year over year. In addition, it can help you identify which supporting programs would be most beneficial to your organization.
  • Define Short- and Long-Term Goals – Improving the health of one employee can be an extensive process. Improving the health of dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of team members, can take considerably longer. Work with your healthcare providers to set realistic short- and long-term goals for your team, and provide the tools to help your staff make incremental improvements in their daily lives.
  • Incentives – While living a healthier lifestyle should be incentive enough to engage your staff, research shows that incorporating financial incentives significantly increases participation in these programs. In fact, in 2015, employers in the US spent an average of $693 per employee on incentives, according to the National Business Group on Health. Think of it as a way of sharing the cost savings the company receives for supporting these initiatives. Identify ways you can provide a significant financial benefit to participation, from reduced healthcare premiums to bonus vacation days to gift card raffles to health savings and retirement savings plan contributions.
  • Be Transparent – In addition to explaining the benefits enrollment process, take time to keep your employees updated on the ongoing health of your organization. Without revealing personal health details, share updates on the overall health of the team, set up internal resources for team members who need help navigating wellness resources and ensure that executives and team leads are visibly participating in company-wide health initiatives.

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For more information on programs and tools that can help lower the healthcare costs at your company, please visit our website, or follow us on Twitter @HEALTHWORKS and on LinkedIn.