5 tips for starting or refining a wellness program

Published
  • October 11 2017, 11:03am EDT
Wellness is becoming an increasingly popular offering for both employers and employees — and with positive results. According to a recent study from UnitedHealthcare, nearly three-quarters of employees say they are interested in wellness programs, and 59% of employees with access to wellness programs say the initiatives have improved their health.

Still, employers can move the wellness needle even more by taking a number of steps to refine — or begin, if they haven’t already — a wellness program, says Rebecca Madsen, UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer.

Madsen says there are five steps employers can follow to revitalize or create an engaging wellness program.

5 tips for starting or refining a wellness program

Wellness is becoming an increasingly popular offering for both employers and employees — and with positive results. According to a recent study from UnitedHealthcare, nearly three-quarters of employees say they are interested in wellness programs, and 59% of employees with access to wellness programs say the initiatives have improved their health.

Still, employers can move the wellness needle even more by taking a number of steps to refine — or begin, if they haven’t already — a wellness program, says Rebecca Madsen, UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer.

Madsen says there are five steps employers can follow to revitalize or create an engaging wellness program.

1. Customize a strategy for your workforce

Review historical insurance claims data to identify the most common health challenges, prevalent health needs and high-risk populations. Use this insight to help develop a custom strategy integrating a variety of solutions to target top priorities.

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2. Offer incentives to get employees to participate

Align incentives with your wellness program’s goals so employees are rewarded for participating and achieving positive results. Choose incentives that are meaningful to your employees.

Do they prefer financial incentives such as gift cards, reductions in plan premiums or health savings account contributions? Or would vacation days or a charitable donation be better motivators?

Provide incentives on an ongoing basis if possible, so employees are rewarded throughout the year to help keep them motivated.

3. Influence the workplace

Employees spend a significant part of their day at work and are presented with wellness-related decisions throughout the day. It’s important to create an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

For example, when craving a snack, is there a vending machine that offers healthy alternatives to candy bars and soda? During breaks, is there a walking path or an on-site fitness area with a treadmill? Is it possible to schedule on-site biometric screenings, flu shots, educational seminars or even team-building cooking classes?

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4. Communicate your program and support

Promote your wellness program using traditional channels, including lunchroom bulletin boards and flyers; digital channels, including email and the intranet, and with “wellness ambassadors.”

It’s important to inform and motivate executives and supervisors about the positive role they can play to support and communicate wellness initiatives. Remember to promote not only when you launch your wellness program, but multiple times throughout the year so employees are aware of the wellness opportunities.

5. Evaluate results and solicit input

Evaluate your wellness program annually to assess strengths, weaknesses and progress. Work with your health plan to measure the impact on employee engagement and medical costs. And remember to be flexible and listen to your employees on how to improve wellness offerings for the future.