As health care costs continue their upward trajectory, employers everywhere are left searching for ways to manage their benefit costs, and many are looking to wellness programs as the solution. In fact, a recent Express Scripts study reveals that 81% of employers surveyed intend to offer a wellness plan in the next two years.

 

Must-have benefit

In the past, wellness plans almost seemed like "nice-to-haves" that nevertheless remained on the periphery.

However, due to demonstrated ROIs that well-utilized wellness plans can deliver, some employers are becoming very aggressive in their efforts to drive higher utilization and engagement - some even offer financial incentives like lower medical premiums for adopting healthier behaviors.

Despite these rewards and, of course, the health benefits of complying with a wellness plan, many employers are continuing to struggle with employee adoption and engagement. Lately, more human resources professionals have been telling us about their challenges with hitting their membership goals.

 

Key to engagement

Wellness plans, just like any other benefit an employer offers, are only effective if employees are aware of them and understand their features and advantages. Effective communication is critical to employee engagement.

We saw this first-hand when we incorporated wellness communication into a client's overall benefits education/enrollment campaign. The human resources team had expressed dissatisfaction with the organization's overall wellness participation and asked us if we could help them spread the word on the program.

 

Action plan

Our employee communication materials included information about the wellness initiative, and our onsite benefits counselors discussed it with employees during their individual enrollment sessions.

Following the enrollment period, HR reported a nearly three-fold increase in wellness participation and felt the additional communication helped give it a much-needed boost.

With Express Scripts also reporting that poor health choices generate billions in wasted medical costs, an employer's investment in wellness communications has the potential to produce a substantial ROI.

 

Mantz is VP of sales at The Farmington Company, a national provider of benefits communication and voluntary benefits services. He has more than 20 years of industry experience, including on the carrier side. Reach Mantz at (800) 621-0067 x 6703 or dmantz@farmingtonco.com.

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