THE CASE FOR CORPORATE WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Healthy People = Healthy Profits.
Fact: A 2012 review of 62 studies, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found 25% lower sick leave, health plan costs, worker’s compensation, and disability costs among companies that had wellness programs.
Fact: A 2014 Harvard Business Review study found an average of annual health care cost increase of 1-2% for companies with wellness programs compared to the 7% national average.
It’s no surprise then, that companies who have implemented Employee Wellness Programs are seeing an ROI. In fact, Johnson & Johnson leaders estimate that wellness programs have saved the company $250 million on healthcare costs over the past decade with a 270% ROI, or, $2.71 return for every dollar spent.
Here’s another fact: the cost of employee absence in North America is approximately $8.6 billion annually. Absenteeism is a major and measurable outcome of common health conditions such as: stress, depression, anxiety migraines, respiratory illnesses, arthritis, diabetes, back and neck pain, etc. Stress-related illnesses, however, don’t just cost employers in terms of high absenteeism but also in dollars and cents such as higher insurance claims, lost efficiency, and lost productivity. Therefore a Workplace Wellness program needs to be holistic in it’s approach, not restricted to one aspect of health.
The definition of a Workplace Wellness program is as follows: an organized, employer-sponsored program that is designed to support employees (and sometimes, their families) as they adopt and sustain behaviours that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness and benefit the organization’s bottom line. That can be a tall order. A discount at the local gym will not suffice. So how do you go about designing a program that will meet these needs?
WE NEED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR PEOPLE
To start to address an organization’s health, there must first be a clear understanding of its current issues and trends. You need to collect and look at the data. There is a great deal of useful indicators such as the top ten drugs prescribed under the company’s drug benefits program, a demographic profile of the company, attendance rates, engagement scores and many others. What’s more, to create an effective program with a positive ROI, you must look at the trends for the future. What is the cost of doing nothing as your population ages and the cost of providing support continues to increase? What are the key drivers from a risk perspective? You need to understand the story your company numbers are trying to tell. Finally, you need to ensure your efforts are tailored to your employee’s needs which can differ greatly from company to company. Factors such as geography, type of work, age of your workforce, culture, etc. drives needs that are unique to each organization and inform a different program. Even indirect factors such as the strength of your brand can have an impact on stress related illnesses (imagine that company/brand you love to bash…now imagine you work there and are listening to people bash your company at every public outing you attend. This can have quite an impact on your mental well being.).
How you personalize makes a difference and so does how you implement and engage your teams. Health care claims are about $1500 higher among employees who do not participate in their workplace wellness programs as compared to those who do. Therefore, the more personalized a program is designed and the more effectively it’s rolled out will allow for greater participation rates and a better ROI.
We advocate Health Risk Assessments (HRAs). These help to create programs that are employee needs-driven, and will increase participation rates. Think of it as sending the company to the doctor for a physical. This lifestyle survey includes stress levels, physical activity, eating patterns, tobacco and alcohol use, which is then used to track progress. In much the same way that an individual visits a doctor for physical pain, a proper treatment is not given without a diagnosis. And that diagnosis cannot be reached without a proper assessment. Health Risk Assessments are delivered to identify what is wrong with your organization, and offer a tailored solution. As mentioned, what works for one organization may not be the right solution for another.
ORGANIZATIONS NEED CHECK-UPS TOO
Included in an HRA is the engagement survey which are a composite of questions that are all value based. The results of this aspect of the survey are a key indicator of how emotionally attached to the organization the employees feel, whether they find personal meaning in their work, and are motivated to commit the time and effort to the organization.
As with Johnson & Johnson, a reduction in health care claims costs is not the only benefit you are looking for. Other outcomes they experienced included greater productivity and engagement as participants in wellness programs were absent less often and performed better at work than their non-participant counterparts. They also experienced higher morale, which included an increase in pride, trust and commitment, contributing to a vigorous organization.
We all know that finding and retaining good employees is key to a corporations’ success but many don’t realize yet that helping your employees stay healthy is just as important. Preventative health assessments and solutions are therefore vital. Not only does a corporate wellness program provide health-related cost savings, it increases employee satisfaction, engagement, innovation and productivity. When you identify health risks at the individual level and provide personalized feedback, you empower employees to change behaviour and help them become proactive with their health.
Saibil Counselling & Consulting provides organizational consulting and corporate wellness programs that produces a healthier bottom line while helping your employees in a meaningful, long-term way. Our approach starts with an in-depth assessment, followed by program design, development and delivery. Regardless of where your employees work, we have a solution to educate, inspire, and support your employees to maximize their health, energy and performance.