Tag Archives: return on investment of wellness programs

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.

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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

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

Taking on the Perennial ‘Proving the ROI of My Program’ Issue

Quantifying the return on investment (ROI) of their wellness program remains a serious concern for workplace wellness managers, according to our ongoing Wellness Management Leadership Surveys.

But senior management is looking at wellness and health promotion professionals to come up with measures that reinforce their wellness program is worth it, is an good investment and is helping to save the company money.

Wellness managers over the years have told us that they continue to be Continue reading

Measuring the Effectiveness of Workplace Wellness Programs

Worksite-based wellness programs can play an important role in improving the health of Vermont’s employees, according to recent study conducted jointly by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont(BCBSVT) and the University of Vermont for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study sought to determine the relative effectiveness of three worksite wellness programs, and was based on a 30-month research project involving more than two-dozen Vermont employers. Continue reading

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.

Tracking Employer Use of Financial Incentives to Reward Healthy Behaviors

Many employers and wellness professionals as well have been keeping an eye on the growing trend of awarding meaningful incentives – not just tee shirts, coffee mugs and other similar tokens for participation in the organization’s wellness program. By meaningful incentives, we’re talking real cash incentives.

We have been conducting a survey on the use of incentives in wellness programs and some 110 wellness managers have responded. We are about to begin reporting on the results of this important survey in our monthly management newsletter – Wellness Program Management Advisor. We will also share the significant survey findings at some point on this blog.

A survey released last year by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health illustrated just how important a subject incentives Continue reading

National Employee Wellness Program Participation Numbers

An average 19 percent of employees participate in programs administered by wellness managers who are either subscribers to Wellness Program Management Advisor, or members of the WellnessJunction.com online community.

Employee Participation Rates In Workplace Wellness Programs

* Average Employee Participation — 19%

* Corporate Programs — 22%

* Hospital Programs — 12.5%

Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, copyright Wellness Program Management Advisor

A caveat for wellness professionals, these numbers were gathered in 2004. As a result, it can be assumed that participation rates have changed. To determine that, the Wellness Management Information Center is mounting a new survey focused on participation in programs.

There have been other surveys in recent years on the topic of employee participation in wellness programs. But some of those surveys were among employees. The Wellness Program Management Advisor survey was among professional wellness managers whose duties include tracking participation.

The managers reported participation rates that ranged from a low of three percent to a high of 55 percent of total employees, our Workplace Wellness Management Survey found.

In some instances, rates are higher depending on the type of program being offered, a manager said.

Employee participation in wellness programs at one airline was reported at 18 percent, our survey found. And another manager reported “marketing some programs to families.”

For the most part, corporate wellness programs reported greater participation, ranging from 5 percent to 55 percent, the Wellness Program Management Advisor poll found.

The average participation rate among corporate programs is 22 percent, our survey found.

Hospital rates ranged from 10 percent to 25 percent of employees. There were too few participants from the university or government sectors to be included in the calculations.

Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Ave., Suite S 200, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100, http://www.wellnessjunction.com

Wellness Managers and Issues Surrounding Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment or the ROI of a wellness and health promotion topic is always a key concern for wellness managers – proving the ROI of their programs to senior management.

The topic comes up every year on our Wellness Management Leadership Survey.It also has been the subject of numerous discussions on our Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

We have written about the ROI of workplace wellness in Wellness Program Management Advisor and some 17 articles written on the subject have been posted on WellnessJunction.com

Over on the Wellness Manager Discussion Group you can search on the term ROI over all the messages posted by the members and you’ll find more than 250 posts. Many of the messages have valuable information on this topic and on cost savings.

Just go to our Group home page on Yahoo. http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WellnessManager

On the left hand navigation column click on Messages. Use the Search box:

Likewise, on WellnessJunction.com just use the Search box for articles on ROI and cost savings, etc. http://www.wellnessjunction.com