The concept of “Workplace Wellness” covers any program that aims to improve the health of a company’s employees and their families while reducing employer health-related costs. The Global Human Resources Outsourcing (GHRO) team wants to share some very useful information on this subject.
Healthcare costs keep spiking. Every year, businesses and their employees get hit with higher premiums and other healthcare-related expenses. Costs are expected to increase in 2012 by 8.5 percent, though changes in plan designs may help keep cost increases to only seven percent, according to PwC research.
And according to research from Hewitt Associates, in the first decade of the 21st century healthcare costs including employer costs, employee payroll contributions, and out-of-pocket expenses rose from $4,793 to $11,058 per employee.
This unfortunate reality has forced companies throughout the country to make difficult choices: absorb the costs and make cuts elsewhere, pass some of the costs on to employees, or eliminate medical insurance coverage altogether.
As a result, many companies implement comprehensive wellness programs that focus on preventive health and lifestyle modification. This means encouraging employees to focus on key health behaviors such as increasing physical activity, improving eating habits, reducing stress and ceasing tobacco use.
In “8 Ways to Promote Wellness in the Workplace,“ Inc. magazine’s Lauren Lastowka pointed out some important things to do to bring a company closer to wellness:
1. Promote preventive care.
2. Encourage exercise.
3. Emphasize education.
4. Bring the doctor in.
5. Invest in incentives.
6. Hone hunger options.
7. Be mindful of mental health.
8. Recommend behavioral resources.
In a recent article titled “Moving Toward Wellness,” HRO Today discussed key issues regarding implementing workplace wellness programs.
A wellness program can help a company create a positive and healthy culture at work. For example, the “Be Good to Yourself” program helps create workplace cultures that encourage exercise, smoking cessation and healthy eating habits and behaviors.
Getting Employees on Board
Companies are not simply offering wellness programs, they are increasingly incentivizing—and even penalizing—employees to encourage participation. Between 2009 and 2011, the use of financial rewards to incentivize employees for taking part in health management programs increased by 50 percent, according to the article. This number is expected to go up this year, with approximately 80 percent of employers offering financial incentives. Examples of incentives include:
• Subsidized gym and fitness center memberships.
• Tiered insurance plans that allow the healthiest employees to pay the lowest premiums.
• Financial rewards for weight loss, smoking cessation, or annual checkups.
• More company-paid life insurance.
• Discounts on weight loss and smoking cessation programs.