How effective are wellness programs in the workplace?
It’s not an easy question to answer. There is no shortage of sites dedicated to providing insight on how well various programs work in order to help reduce overall healthcare costs in organizations. What interests me most though is hearing about ideas organizations are actually using that lead to improved well-being of employees and what are the various metrics we need to be measuring. I want to hear about everything from internal health fairs, creative workspaces that promote activity, healthier food options in cafeterias, and other innovative ways organizations are affecting wellness.
I’ll be attending the Human Resource Executive Forum this week and they’re offering a wellness session that will provide insight from top professionals including:
- Jennifer Benz, Chief Strategist and Founder, Benz Communications
- Mark Bukowski, Senior Health and Clinical Consultant, Aon Hewitt
- William D. Katz, Vice President of Human Resources, AmeriGas Propane Inc.
- Michael L. Taylor, M.D., Medical Director for Health Promotion, Caterpillar Inc.
I’ll be sharing what I learn with you here later in the week. I encourage you to come experience the Human Resource Executive Forum for yourself. The learning comes not only from the discussion by the expert panel, but from the roundtable discussions that you will be part of.
In the meantime, share your most creative workplace wellness ideas with me in the comments. None are too crazy. My favorite one lately is having separate “healthy” checkout lines in workplace cafeterias to promote healthy eating. What are your ideas?
Since I am not the boss, I can’t implement any of the ideas I have. I know that I would subsidise gym memberships, offer lunchtime pilates, showers and bike racks for people who ride a bicycle to work, and even try to partner with a fitness equipment provider for a 10% “Douggie Inc.” discount off of your treadmill/other fitness device, for example. I know these ideas, save for the lunchtime pilates are doable for nearly any size business- it just takes shrewd negotiation and salesmanship.
Can’t wait to read about your experience after you come back! My firm Proactive Movement focuses on implementing Wellness @ Work programs for clients…and as Doug said it takes visionary companies to get the concept of health promotion and disease prevention at work. After many months of consultations our clients roll out yearly programs for their staff…these programs can include healthy catering policies, weight loss challenges, meditation in the midst of the day, massage, movement at work and health series education sessions…. However, one thing that’s important to mention is a company may have the best wellness at work program and their employees will still not participate…so wellness program implementation & success is actually very complex. It has a lot to do with organizational culture, communication, change management and the only way to know whether one is successful is measurement of the initiative interms of health changes, engagement, benefit utilization and etc…
I’m currently exploring the use of bio-metric testing tools to both ensure compliance with a wellness initiative based on the key drivers of our health plan expenses; and to reward employees with reduced premiums. Additionally, I’m looking to partner with a Family Health Club chain to truly provide comprehensive fitness options (both in the club and virtually) to support fitness. It’s a great project…will keep you posted!