Wellness Program Guide:
 How to Start a Wellness Program

Why Invest in a Wellness Program?

  • Chronic disease, which is largely preventable accounts for about 80% of the burden of disease / illness and 90% of all medical costs.
  • Preventable illnesses and chronic disease accounts for eight of the nine leading causes of death.
  • The United States spends more on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world and yet, in many respects, it's citizens are not the healthiest.
  • Medical care costs in the United States exceed 14% of the gross domestic product

According to Dee Edington of the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center:

  • Excess costs are related to excess risks
  • Costs follow engagement and risks
  • Controlling risks leads to zero trends

Wellness programs are based on the belief that unhealthy lifestyles can be changed with the right support structure. Whether the issues involve smoking cessation, stress management, obesity and depression; targeted programs based on the latest advances in behavioral health research and technology are providing employers with increasingly effective and affordable methods for improving workforce health and productivity.

Steps to Starting a Wellness Program

  1. Capture senior management support for the wellness program
  2. Build a wellness program team
  3. Assess the needs of your company and employees
  4. Create a wellness program vision, mission and outcomes
  5. Develop a comprehensive and strategic wellness program plan
  6. Choose wellness program actions
  7. Identify an incentive and reward strategy for the wellness program
  8. Communicate to employees about the wellness program
  9. Evaluate wellness program efforts and modify strategies

#1 Capture senior level support for the wellness Program

  • Build the business case for wellness - employee health and job satisfaction affect productivity
  • Employees will follow what is done not what is said
  • Employees need to see that managers believe in and are committed to employee health
  • Commit funds, time and effort

# 2 Build a wellness program team

  • Serves as eyes, ears, arms and legs of the program
  • Establishes continuity, motivation and broad ownership of wellness programs
  • Represents coworkers ideas and concerns
  • Helps reshape organizational culture toward health
  • Select from employees interested in health promotion
  • Reflect the diversity of your employee population
  • Human resources, health and safety, and communications

# 3 Assess the needs of your company and employees

  • Evaluate all data sources to identify greatest opportunities for health improvement
  • Management and employee surveys
  • Review demographics
  • Claims review
  • Health risk data
  • History of organization's wellness initiatives
  • Health benefit plan design

#4 Create a wellness program vision, mission and outcomes

Where are we going and how will we know when we get there?

  • Establish clear vision of program direction
  • Expectations
  • What will be measured and how
  • Identify two to five clearly stated goals
  • Must be measurable and achievable

# 5 Develop a strategic wellness program plan

  • Serves as a point of reference
  • Helps the wellness program become strategic in nature
  • Provides focus for
    • Awareness
    • Lifestyle change
    • Supportive environment programs
    • Policies
    • Target appropriate health risk behaviors
    • Target needs of employees

# 6 Choose wellness program actions

  • Use resources wisely for greatest impact on achieving goals and objectives
  • Actions should flow from your data, goals, objectives and budget
  • Make it fun, creative, appealing and effective

# 7 Identify an incentive & reward strategy for the wellness program

  • Demonstrate organizations commitment to wellness
  • What incentives are most meaningful to employees
  • Motivates participation
  • Reward use of program features and preventive services
  • types of incentives
    • cash or gifts
    • premium discounts
    • time off
    • discounts to health clubs
    • bona fide wellness programs

# 8 Communicate to employees about the wellness program

  • Communicate often
  • Simple and concise
  • Use an identifiable brand
  • Use a variety of media
  • Frequent
  • Customized
  • Personalized

# 9 Evaluate wellness program efforts and modify strategies

  • Helps achieve continuous quality improvement
  • Allows modification to meet changing needs and interests
  • Measure before, during and after
    • Program participation
    • utilization
    • satisfaction
    • Behavioral changes
    • Worker's compensation claims
    • Productivity
    • Turnover and absenteeism
    • Return on investment

Critical Wellness Program Success Factors

  • Top management support
  • Maximize participation in the program
    • Incentives
    • Plan Design
    • Effective & Frequent Communications
  • Personalized & tailored programs
  • Make it fun
  • Evaluation & reporting
  • Active account management & visibility

Primary focus of a wellness program

  • Improve health
  • Create culture that supports health
  • Assist employees in being consumers instead of users of the health care system

Key components of a wellness program

  • Assessment, identification & early identification
  • Demand management/information on demand
  • Medical self-care education
  • Health coaching
  • Disease management
  • Prenatal risk management
  • Medical management integration
  • Regular evaluation and reporting

Making it all work together

  • Enhance workforce health and productivity and contribute to employer financial health
  • Complete integration to provide the most effective approach for managing potentially costly acute and chronic conditions
  • Solutions to reduce costs, increase employee care and provide a better work environment