Wellness Programs – Benefiting Employers and Employees

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Over the last few years, more and more companies have implemented Wellness Programs as part of their benefit programs for their employees. As health care costs continue to rise, primarily due to changes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, many companies are seeing the impact on their bottom lines. The studies referenced below demonstrate a correlation between wellness programs and a reduction in health care costs, as well as evidence the programs boost morale and encourage healthy lifestyles.

Wellness Programs are a great voluntary approach to show employees that their employer is invested in their well-being. Employees take note when their management and executives take the time to show that employees do more than just fill a chair and clock in and out but understand that their lives outside of work and their health are also a priority.

Focusing on building healthy habits such as smoking cessation, exercise, clean eating and stress management, just to name a few, will result in fewer employee health claims, thereby reducing companies overall health care costs. In 2014 Harvard Business Review held a study with 20 companies and found an average annual health care cost increase of 1-2% for companies with wellness programs, compared to the 7% national average.

The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 92% of the companies with a wellness program in place recognize the effectiveness of the programs. In addition, 44% of employers agree they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program.

Researchers recommend offering voluntary health screenings to help make employees aware of their own health. This will empower them to set goals and make choices to work towards achieving those goals. In order to motivate employees to participate, offering bonuses in the form of cash, vacation days or prizes are good ways to encourage employees to engage in the programs. If your company doesn’t offer the voluntary health screenings, you can offer bonuses for going to the doctor and getting annual check-ups and physicals.

Communicating Your Benefits

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Open enrollment can be a stressful time for employees and employers alike. Studies show that more than one-quarter of employees don’t understand the benefits offered by their company, while one half wish there was a simpler way to enroll. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress and boost enrollment is to clearly communicate what benefits are offered, how to enroll, as well as a timeline for enrollment. Simplifying and clarifying the benefits offered and the enrollment process aids employers and employees, saving time, frustration, and money .

Here are a few ways to communicate with your employees about open enrollment:

Consider Going Digital – Though sometimes it is helpful to have a piece of paper or booklet to flip through, more often than not, you’ll simply be adding yet another piece of paper to your employees’ already-crowded desks. Instead, consider going entirely digital. You can replace letters, posters, and flyers with emails or links to online content. You’ll save money on paper and ink but your employees still have access to the material they need.

Explain Why – Present what benefits are offered along with why they are important and valuable to your employees. In addition, this is an excellent time to promote healthy lifestyles, along with any wellness programs that your company offers.

Explain Changes – Introduce changes in carriers and explain if/why premiums have changed or increased from the prior year. Telling your employees why these changes were made and how it works with their best interests in mind will keep them feeling in the loop.

Utilize Multimedia – By repeating the benefits offered through different mediums, you can ensure that your employees have a greater understanding of the benefits and plans being offered to them, so that they can make the right choice for themselves and their families. Videos and webinars are two excellent ways to communicate benefits, with content available year-round to answer any questions that might arise.