Category Archives: wellness at work

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

Active Listening Essential for Wellness Professionals – at Work and Home

After a rough day at work — placing others people’s problems into perspective — you may be faced with communication conflicts at home as well. For that reason, effective communication is a must!

According to Stephen M. Horowitz, Ph.D., who at the time achieved FAWHP status, active listening is a very important component of communication. Active listening, said Horowitz, “defuses anger by acknowledging the emotion and it allows you to decide whether or not you want to ‘buy into’ someone else’s momentary craziness.” 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

New Study: Workplace Wellness Programs Seen Cutting Chronic Costs

Workplace wellness programs can lower health care costs in workers with chronic diseases, but components of the programs that encourage workers to adopt healthier lifestyles may not reduce health costs or lead to lower net savings, according to a new research study.

Following a large employee wellness program sponsored PepsiCo, the study conducted by the Rand Corporation found that “efforts to help employees manage chronic illnesses saved $3.78 in health care costs for every $1 invested in the effort.”

However, the program’s lifestyle management components that encourage healthy living did not deliver returns that were higher than the costs, the researchers found.

“The PepsiCo program provides a substantial return for the investment made in helping employees manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease,” said Dr. Soeren Mattke, the study’s senior author and a senior natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

“But the lifestyle management component of the program — while delivering benefits — did not provide more savings than it cost to offer,” he continued.

With any prevention effort, it is often “easier to achieve cost savings in Continue reading

Health Fairs Done The Right Way – To “Capitivate People”

A key piece of a successful workplace wellness program is a well planned and organized well attended health fair with measured outcomes, believe members of our Wellness Manager Professional Discussion Group on Yahoo.

My organization puts on a number of health fairs every year for our
employee base, posted a group member.

“We have tried numerous activities and displays. We’d like to provide
something that would truly captivate people but not cost very much to
provide,” she wrote

“Does anyone have any recommendations? Any suggestions?”

Unfortunately, many health fair organizers do not clearly define what the goals and objectives are for their health fair when planning their event, responded a veteran wellness and health promotion professional.

“As a result, the health fairs can be too generic and superficial to provide participants with meaningful information and resources for making changes in their lives,” she said.

When designing a health fair, ask questions. “What changes in the
participants do health fair organizers hope to achieve? What are the unique
needs of the target audience?”

If it is an organizational problem being targeted, what environmental issues
impact on the behavior? After answering such questions, put together a health fair that specifically addresses each of the identified issues, she suggested.

You need a measurement plan for the health fair goals, offered another member.

“Most only count number of participants, but you could count the specific number of each brochure that was picked up, you could count number of participants visiting each booth,” he said.

Or even better would be  Continue reading

Person-To-Person Can Make The Difference For Workplace Wellness Program

Personal involvement with participants seemed to drive up satisfaction with wellness initiatives, said Patty Clavier, Intel senior project manager, when discussing Intel’s global health wellness program during a webinar  sponsored by Wellness Management Information Center.

Between the two different types of coaching offered – on-site or telephonic –the highest rates of satisfaction are associated with personal face-to-face coaching, Clavier explained.

In both the U.S. and across the globe, two different health risk assessments are used, said Clavier, but people tend to “prefer the idea of working with Continue reading

Wellness Program Participation – Getting Your Employees or Members to Agree to Have the Health Risk Assessment

Veteran wellness and health promotion managers know well that to the key to a successful, ongoing workplace wellness program is participation.

How “ya gonna keep ‘em coming back?’

And, a key piece of a successful wellness program is the health fair with screening – the health risk assessment (HRA.)

Despite much research and searching one member of the Wellness Manager discussion group on Yahoo, reported that although she had read many articles recently on health risk assessments she could not seem to find what she was looking for. Continue reading

Are Some Smokers Actually Healthy?

So, Are Some Smokers Actually Healthy?
I am curious…As a wellness professional, do you consider someone who smokes to be healthy, asked a member of our Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

That simple question stirred up quite a debate among the wellness professionals. Continue reading

How to develop lasting behavior change among your employees\members

Posts related to lifestyle and behavioral issues have come up 447 times in discussions among members of Wellness Manager Discussion Group sponsored by the Wellness Management Information Center.

Behavioral change is a key goal of any worksite wellness program.

Changing the behavior of employees in a wellness management education and training program “How to Help Employees\Members Adopt Healthy Behavior Changes That Last.”

Michael White, a Partner in WELL Street, was the presenter.

The  program was  one in a four-part Workplace Wellness Management Education and Training Series that had outstanding evaluations by participants.

For information on the program please click on this link now:
http://www.healthresourcesonline.com/edu/Creating-Behavior-Change.htm

Organizational Readiness for Prevention

Interview with Dr. Joel Bennett

Question: What do you mean by “organizational readiness” or “prevention readiness?”

Answer: My quick answer is real behavioral change is Incremental, not Seismic. Readiness refers to the capacity of the organization—especially relevant key players (leaders, wellness coordinators, health champions)—to listen to and proactively respond to the unique health needs of its members. Such responsiveness is driven by the climate of the organization and its openness to change.

There is a  great deal of theory and research on organizational change and, during the 1980s, a whole field of “change management” specialists and consultants came into being and grew. At their best, change strategies are systematic and intentional “planned changes” that enhance or preserve the well-being of a company (efficiency, profits, AND employee health). One insight that came from these efforts is that “off the shelf” programs (learning, training, or otherwise) that come from one company or vendor may be less effective in another setting unless the program is modified or adapted to best fit the new setting.

Put another way, some workplaces are more ready to change than others and, subsequently, more ready to receive, implement, and benefit from wellness program. Your “best fit” is enhanced when you match the program to the readiness level and incrementally “nudge” well-being.

Question: Why is it important for workplaces to consider their level of readiness as part of their workplace health promotion efforts?

Answer: It makes little financial sense to throw money at a problem that is not ready for help. Changes occurs gradually, incrementally. The time you take to understand readiness now will save money later. You think more carefully about where you are spending your money.

Let’s use the analogy of a cigarette smoker but you can refer to any addictive process. (By the way, most of the healthcare costs employers face are due to addictive processes: overeating, tobacco, alcohol, and workaholism). If the smoker is using tobacco at a high rate, say two packs a day, you will have a hard time convincing them to quit completely than if you (a) help him/her identify when and how they can reduce their use, and (b) ask them to tell you why (costs/benefits) they should reduce use—i.e., help them to motivate themselves.

To do so, you – as a coach or therapist – have to discover their own interest in stopping an old (unhealthy) behavior or starting a new (healthy) behavior. This discovery depends upon your ability to listen to their interest in stopping—their needs, desires, values, hopes, etc. If they are in denial, your response (your strategy) will be entirely different than if they are eager to change.

Similar, when it comes to the entire workplace, you run a financial-risk if you just give everyone the same program because it is new, fancy, web-based, colorful, etc.. Many workplaces are realizing that there is no magic bullet. You have to listen to worker needs and motivate them where they are. Readiness levels tell you where they are.

Question:  So, is readiness assessment only useful for those who are just beginning programs?

Answer: Planning is always good. First, workplaces are dynamic; they keep changing. Your readiness can actually change—move forward or backward or follow a cycle.

Remember the change theory I spoke about earlier? Organizations can sometimes “freeze” in their readiness and the best investment is helping them to be more open (“unfreezing”) to receiving programs than in just giving them programs.

We call that capacity building. Second, the workforce is heterogeneous or diverse. Some groups, worksites, departments, stores are more ready than others. In fact, some organizations have a “best practice” unit in wellness that has just naturally evolved without any outside vendor or program. It is always better to tap your own internal resources.

You may have a diamond in the rough. So your assessment should be done on different units. Third, whether you are new or old it is always good to refresh. We sometimes make assumptions that the ways things are are the “way things are” and fail to test our assumptions.

Question: What are the core features of readiness?

Answer: We have identified five core cultural features that we think pertain to any workplace. There are other important features concerning the wellness champion or internal advocate as well, but these five have to do with factors inside the work setting.

First, and most basic, what kinds of resources and materials do you have? This includes budget, space, and communication capacity.

Second, what kind of internal support do you have from leadership and administration? Companies can make the mistake of allocating budget to program materials before they gain senior support as well as coworker attitudes for the program.

Third, is the climate at work proactive or reactive? This goes back to the “change management” ideas and “resistance to change.” Your program will look much different if you already have effective policies in place (e.g., safety, drug-free workplace) that are respected and you face problems head on.

Fourth, adaptability. This is my favorite and it has to do with a willingness to grow, to face challenges, and to experiment.

Fifth, and this ties into the learning and training function: Do supervisors, co-workers, and policies make your workplace a learning organization?

Question: How will assessment benefit the business from an economic perspective? Does this have anything to do with return-on-investment?

Answer: Remember the smoking analogy and where to best leverage your communications. A readiness assessment can help you maximize your return-on-investment because you think more carefully about your current risks and strengths.

If your spending more time and money on materials and resources when you tend to be a very routine-oriented and reactive organization, you may want to re-think where your budget should go and create a phased approach. Spend more time talking to managers about the program, get them on board, have retreats, ask for their input into the program. This could yield a better return in the long-run.

Question: What do you need to do to be most successful with the data you collect in an assessment?

Answer: Action planning and Follow-up. Don’t just leave the data on the shelf. Come back to it 6- and 12-months later. Review the information with leadership and the key players I mentioned earlier.

Ask for their input and create a plan TOGETHER. This is key. If you focus on “meeting folks where they are” and plan accordingly, success will come. This will be more effective than just blindly launching a campaign.

In fact, campaigns can hurt you because workers may feel you are not really paying attention to their needs and feel you are coming “form left field.” You can generate more resistance. So, success comes from care and attention paid to “what is” – your current level of readiness.

Editor’s Note:  Joel B. Bennett is President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems, Fort Worth, Texas, 76107  817.921.4260 www.organizationalwellness.com

Dr. Bennett will present an educational program “Organizational Readiness For Workplace Wellness: Are You Ready? Thursday, August 19, 2010, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. EDT

For details on the program visit: http://www.healthresourcesonline.com/edu/Organizational-Workplace-Wellness.htm

The program has been organized by the Wellness Management Information Center.