Periodically, we like to offer success stories from HR pros from across the U.S. This account of how one employer boosted its wellness program participation comes courtesy of Jason Vollbrecht, benefits leader of Great River Energy in Maple Grove, MN.
It was time for us to ramp up our wellness activities.
We hoped that helping staffers live healthier lives might help us with those ever-rising healthcare costs.
We knew that it was crucial to get employees involved, but we also knew they were only half of the challenge. Getting staffers’ spouses and dependents on board would really help us in the long run.
But first, we needed to get buy-in from staff.
Our initiative was based around an online portal that workers could access anytime at home or work. Within that portal, we had a two-step program.
The first step was simple enough: Employees would get $300 if they completed an online assessment and attended an on-site health screening.
But if staff members wanted to earn the other $700 we had earmarked for each participant, they’d have to put in some legwork.
The second phase revolved around accumulating points. Employees could gain points by:
- viewing educational videos on health risks, and
- tracking healthy activities like water intake, hours slept at night, exercise, seatbelt use and more.
Workers could also earn points by attending wellness events we sponsored onsite and participating in weight-loss and physical-activity challenges.
Finally, receiving a physical, going to the dentist or getting a colonoscopy could also gain staffers points.
The goal for each participating employee: 10,000 points. Once staffers reached that number, we handed over the extra $700, for a total of $1,000 earned for healthy living.
Get everyone involved
We had a lot of success with the program, but we also remembered how crucial it was to get spouses
and dependents involved.
Initially, spouses and dependents didn’t have to participate for employees to earn the full $1,000.
But we decided to change that because, after all, spouses and dependents incur health costs, too. Getting them involved would drive costs down. So that’s what we did.
A crucial part of this phase of our initiative was to send info on the program directly to employees’ homes. That way, spouses and dependents would feel invested in the program.
Below the national average
Our well-thought-out wellness program helped drive our annual healthcare cost increases below the national average.
That means we haven’t had to ramp up co-pays, deductibles or out-of-pocket costs.
Even better: Our employee surveys say that satisfaction is high. We like to think that’s due in part to having happy, healthy staff members.