If anything’s working to control healthcare cost increases today, it’s wellness programs. But they can quickly turn into money pits if you make one of the classic mistakes.
Wellness program experts, Debra Wein and Courtney Hernandez of Wellness Workdays, a corporate wellness program provider, recently authored “Top Ten Wellness Program Mistakes,” which was published in Benefits Magazine.
Here’s what they said are the biggest pitfalls in wellness programs today:
- Being impatient. Companies typically won’t see a return on their investments for years. Don’t give up if you aren’t seeing savings right away. The goal for the first couple of years should be to ramp up employee participation (say to 25% by the end of year one and to 50% by the end of year two). In year three or four, you can start looking for savings.
- Not collecting enough data. What activities would interest your employees most? What health risks are most prevalent among your employees? These are the things you need to find out. After that, it’s a matter of developing activities that interest employees and target those health risks.
- Not setting health goals. Simply offering programs or setting up a gym does not a wellness program make. These are activities. A program encourages participants to reach goals/benchmarks.
- Concentrating solely on the unhealthy. Of course, it’s essential to get your high-risk employees involved early. But don’t forget to keep your healthy employees … well, healthy. Otherwise you’ll see them slipping into your high-risk group.
- Having too few options. The best way to maximize participation? Offer a variety of programs/activities — not just a gym and a walking program. Don’t forget about mental wellness. Classes on stress and financial management can also be a boon.
- Not offering carrots. Many employees simply won’t participant if there’s no incentive in it for them. And no, better health is not an incentive that’ll grab their attention.
- Pinching pennies. You can’t get something for nothing.
- Failing to get support from upper management. This is one area where your leaders will have to lead. If upper management’s not involved, employees won’t take it seriously.
- Not tracking results. There’s no way to tell whether a wellness program is having an impact if you’re not at least tracking participation.
- Failing to reevaluate. Once you’ve got a successful wellness program in place, you can’t just put it on autopilot. Employees’ needs and interests change. At least once a year, check to see if new health risks are popping up or if employees are becoming more/less interested in certain programs.
Info: For a more detailed breakdown of each mistake and how to prevent them, check out the Benefits Magazine article by Wein and Hernandez by clicking here (PDF).