Given that many employers in parts of the United States have implemented wellness programs or are planning to do so, it would seem that the benefits of these programs is, in one sense, evident; employers know that they promote healthier habits and lifestyles, and thus provide their team members with the tools they need to achieve their goals.
In another sense, though, it can be difficult to accurately evaluate the extent to which these programs deliver on their promises. A 2014 survey conducted by Hawai`i Health at Work Alliance (HH@WA) shows that Hawai`i companies seem to share that concern; although 60% of employers surveyed had implemented some form of wellness program, only 20% felt confident that it was working.
The problem is that while many wellness programs offer some benefits, precious few fully investigate the validity of an accepted trend, like the (mis)use of incentives and rewards, or understand how to create sustainable behavior change. That’s why it’s important to be selective in choosing, designing and implementing a wellness program for your organization.
It Takes More Than Knowledge And Resources
Many employers offer resources and incentives like free gym memberships and “Lunch & Learns.” While these are simple (and popular) ways to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices, studies by Health At Work Actuaries (BRATLAB™) have shown that they’re not as effective as employers may think – only 30% of employees who are offered gym memberships take advantage of the offer, and after 3 months only 10% are still using it. Likewise, while many employers report positive feedback from “Lunch & Learn” sessions, research shows that raising awareness about important health issues is simply not enough. We need to do more than educate; we need to continuously nudge people to make lasting change.
Improving Habits, Improving Outcomes
Targeted wellness programs can make a big difference where other initiatives falter. By harnessing insights from behavioral psychology, these approaches concentrate on habit formation as the key to producing effective, lasting, positive changes. The result is more sustained engagement from employees, and better long-term results.
Evaluating Wellness Programs: What To Look For
When choosing a wellness program for your team, look for one that provides you with the information you need to understand your workplace’s unique strengths and challenges. It should ideally begin with an assessment of your organization and a fitness evaluation of employees. This provides a baseline that will help you decide which initiatives and values to prioritize, and also to give you a better sense of your most productive/effective/ starting point(s). Once you’ve identified your workplace’s top goals, you should then be provided with a concrete plan and the tools and resources that you need to make progress towards achieving them. Regular (quarterly or bi-annual) fitness testing is also important to gauge your team’s progress and to provide ongoing feedback.
Delivering Wellness That Works: UHA’s Workplace Wellness Programs
UHA offers six wellness solutions to help organizations meet their health and wellness goals:
- Assessment & Plan – a comprehensive organizational assessment and plan that reviews workplace policies, performance and staff perspectives to provide a custom wellness plan for improving wellness at work.
- Personal Fitness BodyAge® Assessment (Fitness Profile) – employs 5 measures to evaluate individuals’ health and provides high level recommendations for improvement. Additionally, the overall health of the employee group is presented using aggregate data. Based on the organization’s top priorities and concerns, solutions are created to help achieve company wellness goals.
- Champion Programs – onsite training for select individuals within the organization to encourage them to act as agents of change, inspiring, motivating and supporting their peers and spreading the message of wellness through their own personal experiences.
- Wellness Challenges – these custom interventions are tailored to the organization’s particular needs or priorities. They help companies inspire and motivate healthy change by providing resources, training, tools, and/or incentives and healthy competition. Program templates are also available.
- Healthy Workspaces Analysis and Plan – analyzes workspace environment(s) (office, factory floors, etc. depending on the nature of the business) of the employer. Based on the analysis, design, pricing and implementation advice is provided to help employers transform their environments into healthy workspaces.
- Value on Investment (VOI) – offers a comparison of metrics to demonstrate program value and outcomes.
These six initiatives provide employers and employees with resources and tools to achieve their individual and collective goals, and inspire teams to motivate and support each other along the way. To learn more about these programs and how their customized approach can help your team reach their wellness goals, contact UHA today.
UHA wellness products developed in partnership with Health at Work Wellness Actuaries LLC using the research of BRATLAB™, a division of Health at Work Wellness Actuaries.Sources: Health at Work Wellness Actuaries (2014). [Dose Value Model]. Unpublished data. Retrieved from BRATLAB database.