ConnectWell’s Andrea Bloom and Dana Wenter recently took part in the 4th Annual Wellness Rewards Congress in Las Vegas. In addition to leading a workshop on engaging employees and their families in wellness practices outside of work, Andrea and Dana participated in the conference’s rich dialogue on issues and trends in corporate wellness and recount lessons learned below.
Wellness Rewards Congress speakers represented a range of companies along the spectrum of wellness adoption. While our nation’s healthcare system is still focused on treating disease and has only just begun to move toward wellness through prevention and health promotion, some of the early adopters of wellness in the workplace are achieving significant rewards. These wellness champions have identified some best practices as well as noteworthy challenges. They have reminded us that despite significant growth in the area of corporate wellness, many companies struggle with implementing the most effective programming.
We know based on research and case studies what an effective corporate wellness initiative must incorporate. But we have also learned that there are many challenges and road blocks along the way. At the Wellness Rewards Congress, we identified some best practices to ensure that worksite health and wellness programs have long-lasting impact.
- Top-level management support is essential. Not only do leaders in upper-management positions need to support efforts, they must demonstrate this support to their employees. For example, executive staff can participate in communications about health programming and health concerns at the business. They can also be highly visible as they participate in a health challenge or special wellness event.
- Companies need to review multiple sources of data to understand the health issues and their financial burdens. Health claims, pharmaceutical usage and health risk assessment data are informative in identifying priorities, reducing healthcare costs, and enhancing employee performance and productivity. We’ve learned that data can help employers discover health issues beyond the expected obesity, cardiovascular issues and diabetes to other conditions such as asthma, anxiety, gastro-intestinal issues or muscular-skeletal injuries.
- Wellness programs make the most impact when implemented alongside healthcare benefits and incentives. Doing so gives employers an opportunity to use health costs and claims data to select the most effective wellness strategies for their employees and their families. This practice also gives employees an opportunity to select healthcare options (e.g., low vs. high deductibles or incentive programs) most relevant to the health needs of their families.
- Dependents must be included in wellness programs, as they account for up to 70 percent of health care costs. Effective communication that uses multiple channels to reach family members results in the greatest level of dependent engagement.
- Comprehensive corporate wellness programs utilize a variety of resources and must tap into the expertise of benefits providers, insurance carriers, health risk appraisals, physicians, hospital and managed care networks, wellness consultants, and programs for people with health risks. The programs that deliver the greatest impact incorporate multiple solutions to address the particular health issues of an organization and engage the highest number of employees and their families in wellness.
Andrea Bloom, Founder and CEO, ConnectWell
Dana Wenter, MPH, Director, Assessments and Program Implementation, ConnectWell