Category Archives: Motivating employees to participate in wellness programs

Healthy reminder: HIPAA rules apply to most workplace wellness programs

By   John L. Barlament,    Quarles & Brady LLP

Wellness programs are great ways for employers to provide guidance on ways employees can improve their health through fitness, diet and various other means. But oftentimes, employers forget that wellness programs may be an extension of a company’s heath care plan. As such, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules apply equally to these wellness programs as they do health care plans.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a list of questions and answers to remind employers of their HIPAA obligations with regard to wellness programs.

In the release, titled “HIPAA Privacy and Security and Workplace Wellness Programs,” HHS clarifies which wellness programs are subject to HIPAA rules. That is, any workplace wellness program a company offers as part of a group health plan for employees. “Where a workplace wellness program is offered as part of a group health plan, the individually identifiable health information collected from or created about participants in the wellness program is [protected health information (PHI)] and protected by the HIPAA Rules,” HHS says.

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Managers Less Concerned About Return on Investment From Their Wellness Programs and More Concerned About the Overall Health and Wellness of Their Employees, Study Finds

 

Gaining senior management for their wellness program and return on investment are among the two top searches we have found over the years. And, proving ROI hits the tops of the list of wellness managers concerns.

ROI, how senior management measures any and all activities in an organization, has always been a major concern of wellness professionals, we have found during our surveys.

And, on top of that there are a few individuals – not directly working in the workplace wellness management field per se – who have been throwing cold water on certain reports surrounding ROI.

But the good news for wellness professionals come from the results of a recent study that found that managers are less concerned about return on investment from their wellness programs and more concerned about the overall health and well-being of their employees.

Indeed, employers are looking beyond ROI when they implement workplace wellness programs found the results of a study by Humana and the economics Economist Intelligence Unit.

For instance, nearly 70 percent of executives “consider their organization’s wellness program to be cost effective, even though not all of the outcomes are measurable,” according to the study report “Measuring Wellness: From Data to Insights.”

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Humana said the study explored “why companies implement workplace wellness, how data influences these programs and identifies obstacles that inhibit program participation.”

The study was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and surveyed 225 U.S.-based executives and 630 full-time employees from organizations with workplace wellness programs..

“It’s interesting to validate that employers now view ROI as an important, but not exclusive or even primary measure of a wellness program’s success,” said Beth Bierbower, president of Humana’s Employer Group Segment. Continue reading

Wellness Program That Motivates Participants to Make Healthier Choices Yields Better Health, Lower Costs, Tracking Data Reveals

Improved health, as shown through lower health care costs and fewer unscheduled absences were found among employees who actively participated in the HumanaVitality program, according to results of a recent study.

Among the significant findings from the two-year study:

  • Unengaged members in both years averaged $53 more per month spent on health care claims than members who were engaged in HumanaVitality both years.
  • The largest impact on health care costs was on members with lifestyle-related chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Engaged members with these conditions had 60 percent lower health claims costs than unengaged members with these conditions.

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  • Also, unscheduled absences were 56.3 percent higher among unengaged members in both years than engaged members.

Continue reading

Motivating Employees Always A Challenging Goal, Managers Say

 

Motivating and incenting employees to participate in their organization’s wellness programs is a much cited chief concern of wellness and health promotion professionals responding to the Workplace Wellness Management Survey, sponsored by the  Wellness Management Information Center.

Among the expressed concerns of wellness managers were such comments as getting employees to “buy in;” participation and commitment; “getting people engaged and participating;” ample time for the employee to participate in any programming;  “how to retain employees once they are engaged in the program;” the lack of individual employee motivation; getting people to use their memberships; and motivating additional participation.

The problem is employees “have so many work-related time constraints that sometimes it is difficult to get them to see wellness programs as a good use of their already limited time,” said a corporate nurse practitioner.

Concerning employee enrollment in programs a manager health promotion said: “Those interested in the interventions are the ones who need the interventions the least.”

Keeping employees once they participate in a wellness program is Continue reading

Applying Quality Management (QM) Principles To Wellness Committees

Their is no disputing that the heart of a successful wellness program lies in a dynamic committee.  And, many important QM principles can be applied to the structure and function of your wellness committee.

Almost 75 percent of wellness professionals surveyed said they have a wellness committee for their organizational programs, and 80 percent said the committees are important for the success of their workplace wellness efforts, the survey revealed.  The survey was conducted by the Wellness Management Information Center.

Feedback

“The feedback the committee members provide is invaluable,” said a wellness program manager.  “They represent  Continue reading

Getting To The ROI Of A Wellness Program; You Need Measures And Analytics

The New Year is still young and there is still time to adopt another new resolution. Yeah, zeroing in on your wellness program’s return-on-investment (ROI.)

The ROI ‘issue’ is not going away. So let’s hunker down and figure out ways to successfully prove the winning results of your organization’s wellness or health promotion program.

The future for wellness professionals includes a healthy dose of doing those calculations surrounding the performance of your program.

But it is not without “measurement conundrums,” according to Larry Chapman, MPH, founder of the founder of Chapman Institute and a leading authority and thought leader on workplace wellness.

“One of the first issues is risk stratification as a core to our programming and how does it offer us better measurement opportunities,” he said during a workshop sponsored by Wellness Program Management Advisor and the Wellness Management Information Center.

“Think about the role of a health risk assessment and the ability for us to identify different risk strata groups and then deal with the role of incentives and communications in helping people that are actually in those risk categories make use of the programs and the interventions that we structure for them,” he urged.

Every place where a wellness manager sees a line here or a dotted line, “you can Continue reading

2014! Resolutions Don’t Come Easy

Happy New Year!

As we head into the New Year people are trying to hang on to their recently made resolutions. However, it is not enough to simply make a resolution; you must be motivated to sticking to it, according to one wellness professional.

Here are four keys to success in keeping resolutions that wellness program managers can share with program participants:

The first key to success is learning how to stay motivated.

“Motivation comes in spurts, so you have to work at keeping it in the forefront of your mind.”

Wellness program managers can help with employee motivation in a number of ways. Continue reading

Program Success Motivates Employees To Participate In Health Promotion Programs

Getting employees to participate in worksite wellness programs is has been an ongoing chief concern of many wellness managers over the years, according to our Workplace Wellness Management Leadership survey.

Participation is the issue, said one corporate human resources director, because “most people are too busy or not motivated enough.”

Employee participation in an organization’s wellness program drives everything for wellness professionals, return on investment (ROI), healthier workforce, continued program funding and budget issues, and how a wellness manager is measured, so its a bottom line pocket-book issue.

Main concern: “Time crunch, employees can’t seem to find the time to get into the onsite fitness center,” said a company RN/fitness coordinator. “People in general just seem to be getting busier and busier!”

“It is just our lifestyles today as well as the mentality of employers — do more with less people,” the coordinator added.       Continue reading

Web-Based Health Promotion Program, Specially Designed For Truck Drivers

A fairly new program incorporating Web-based education is improving the health outcomes of truck drivers – a prime example of “lone workers,” according to results of a study.

Lone workers are at a special risk for poor diet due to limited healthy food choices, opportunities for exercise, and limited access to workplace wellness programs.

Truck drivers face the specific risks of obesity, diabetes, and traffic risks, according to Ryan Olson, PhD, and colleagues at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland who conducted the study.

After six months enrolled in the program, truckers reduced their weight by nearly eight pounds, on average, and improved their diets by reducing consumptions of fats and sugars, according to the study findings. An increase in physical activity was also noted. Continue reading

What Strategies Do You Use To Measure Employee Engagement In Workplace Wellness?

This question was posed by a member of our Workplace Wellness Management Group over on LinkedIn. It’s a good question.

As you know, workplace wellness managers are always concerned about employee participation in programs. So it begs the question – how do you measure employee engagement in workplace wellness programs? So we posted the question on the Wellness Managers’ Discussion Group on Yahoo.

The answers were rich in information and helpfulness:

“I think it is important to first define terms. Are employee engagement and participation being used interchangeably because they can also mean different things,” said a long-time member of the group who has multiple wellness-related certifications.

“Measuring participation is fairly straight forward – the number and percentage of employees who register, attend and complete a multi-session program, as an example, can all be tracked and measured,” he wrote.

“I think measuring engagement is trickier,” he continued. “While there are tools out there to measure employee engagement, I am not sure they specifically address wellness program engagement. As I think about wellness engagement, I am thinking that pre- and post- knowledge testing might be used as a measure of learning engagement, while pre and post changes to individual behaviors might be a measure of engagement from the behavior change perspective. I am sure there are others the list can come up with as well.” Continue reading