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Tuesday, 11 July 2017 11:14

Is YOUR Wellness Program Making a Difference?

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These days, most companies have some sort of worksite wellness program, whether it’s a monthly wellness newsletter, an annual health fair, or weekly exercise challenges.  At Fall River, for example, we participate in weekly Fitbit challenges, which definitely encourages us to log more steps every day!
 
When you think about your company’s wellness program, you may wonder how effective it is in actually improving the health of your employees.

This very topic is addressed in a recent Wellsteps article.  The author lists four components that make an impact:
  • Education
  • Motivation
  • Skills and Tools
  • Culture and Environment
The goal of any wellness program is to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors, which will in turn reduce health risks, the prevalence of chronic disease in your population, absenteeism and presenteeism.  Poor lifestyle choices (nutrition, exercise, smoking), rather than genetics and environment, make up 70%-90% of the cause of chronic disease, but which of the above components are the most effective in changing behavior?

Because it’s easy, many wellness programs focus on education and awareness as the primary goal, but research shows that this tactic is the least likely to produce lasting change.  While it’s important to identify what needs to change, it’s the how that is the hard part.  Providing motivation and the tools to become healthier are much bigger components of lasting change. Powerful incentive programs are frequently what gets people started, but the goal is to help people find their own intrinsic motivation. For example, you can also share a weight-loss success story from the office to create peer-to-peer motivation for others to reduce their BMI.  With regard to tools, you can provide on-site exercise or cooking classes, equipment, or trackers to help them succeed.

The largest long-term impact on behavior change, however, comes from the overall culture and environment of health and wellness in the workplace.  After getting the proper incentives, other motivation, and tools in place, your wellness committee should focus most of their efforts on opportunities to engage employees in improving health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Think of ways the committee can help employees change their unhealthy behaviors and incorporate lasting healthy changes.  Keep healthy foods available and make them cheaper than unhealthy alternatives like vending machine snacks. Map out walking routes around the office, and create challenges between co-workers.  Make all work areas tobacco-free zones.  Provide a fitness center onsite or provide discounts to a gym nearby.  These are all great examples of ways you can impact your company culture and support your employees’ healthy habits.

For specific questions on starting or re-designing a wellness program, don’t hesitate to contact us!
 
Read 351 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 12:11
Tonya Kimrey

Tonya is our Senior Account Manager and brings eleven years of prior insurance company expertise to Fall River, having worked at Anthem Blue Cross and Great-West Healthcare (now part of CIGNA). Tonya holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Originally from Minnesota, she loves the Colorado outdoors and enjoys family time with her young daughter.