Rising health care costs, and an increase in health care issues among the forty-five and over that constitute a large percentage of the work force, have driven a large number of companies to seek alternatives to standard health insurance by instituting a corporate wellness program. Many companies, however, have little to no experience with wellness plans and how to create one engineered toward success.
The Dollars and Sense of a Wellness Program
Government initiatives and grants have encouraged the production of wellness programs within companies, but the greatest benefit isn’t in tax write-offs. Simply put, healthy employees cost the company less. A wellness program allows them to care for their health and address minor issues that could become major problems without early detection and corrective measures. Additionally, healthy employees will stay with the company longer. Companies that have introduced a wellness program have cut their turn-over rate by as much as fifty percent.
The Highly Aware Employee
The general public is becoming more and more health-conscious. Government sponsored wellness incentives have decreased the numbers in tobacco smokers and improved dietary habits that cause high risk for heart disease and diabetes, but higher stress, longer work hours and multi-tasking have prevented many employees from reaching their goals.
An on-site wellness program gives more readily available tools to employees, and more initiative for maintaining good health. Time is saved on office visits, as well as costs. In one study, conducted by Harvard University, a company reported a decline by 80% in lost work days through a wellness plan that included an on-site health and well-being department staffed with a physician and a nurse case manager.
The Dynamic Program
A wellness program is as personalized as the company itself. The size of the company, the type of work the employees are generally engaged in, the age group, the environment, all create tailored needs that can only be met by carefully studying the corporate wellness plan information and initiating a strategically integrated program.
A successful plan centers around strong leadership skills. Successful organizations use a wellness program manager who creates a clear and comprehensive plan and implements it on a daily basis. The program manager measures aspects of the plan that did not work, where improvements can be made and consults with upper management on new ideas for increasing the plan’s effectiveness.
The best program managers connect their expertise with the culture and environment of the work place. They are collaborative by nature, analytical and effective in their performance.
Not all employees are agreeable with a wellness plan. Some simply don’t wish to incorporate exercise and diet into their life-styles. Some are distrustful of company motivations, believing their health care is strictly their own business. Wellness is a relatively new concept within the business model, but companies that have incorporated wellness programs that readily attend to the immediate needs of the employees, including stress relief, exercise and medical check-up’s, have registered a high success rate with their programs.
Just as a wellness program caters to specific company needs, a wellness staff caters to the particular needs of the individual. There is a lower patient/medical provider ratio in wellness programs, allowing more immediate and personalized care. As more employees see the benefits of a wellness plan, the investment return will be a happier, more alert and healthier work force.