Tag Archives: workplace wellness program

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.


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

HRA Follow-Up Involves Intervention And Monitoring, Survey Finds

The majority of wellness professionals involved in the administration of health risk assessments (HRA’s) follow up on the HRA results, according to the results of a workplace wellness management survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor and Wellness Junction.

Almost 71 percent of survey respondents said they follow up on the HRAs while almost 16 percent do not perform follow-up services, according to the findings.

However, almost 57 percent of the wellness professionals respondenting to the survey intervene immediately and refer employees with serious health problems to physicians, emergency facilities and other care providers, the survey discovered.

Referral Process

Methods of referral to health professionals include onsite and offsite procedures, wellness managers said.

“At the time cholesterol and blood pressure are measured, a doctor’s referral is given to the employee, if needed,” said a provider of wellness services. “We follow up after two weeks to see if these employees actually did see their doctors.”

Others make direct contact with the physician to whom an employee is referred.

“If we refer an employee to a primary care physician (PCP), we mail the PCP a postcard and ask them to send it back if the employee has been seen,” explained a program coordinator. “We do the same thing with our outpatient wellness programs.”

High Risk Situations

Situations involving employees found to be in a high risk status usually prompt immediate action, according to the study.

“Employees determined to be at high risk for cardiovascular events or cancer are referred to their PCPs with a copy of our findings,” said a wellness program director. “Depending on how acute the risks are, we may even call the PCP in the patient’s presence and refer from that moment.”


“With the HIPAA guidelines, we have the participant read and sign an informed consent form that gives us permission to send copies [of the HRA findings] to their PCP and discuss their personal data with designated medical personnel,” a program manager explained.

“If the participant needs referral to outpatient wellness programming, the person is furnished with the name and phone number of the appropriate contact,” the manager continued. “But whatever the process, we are extremely mindful of confidentiality and privacy. There are times when we might even be overly cautious, but this is a very important and emerging area of concern.”


Wellness professionals primarily rely on the following resources for HRA referrals, the study revealed:

* Onsite nurse care managers.

* Health management summaries that explain aggregate results from HRA responses.

* Onsite medical departments that consist of physicians, nurses and wellness professionals.

* Contact lists of health insurance plan member physicians.

* Telephone counseling.

* In-person health education/behavioral change counseling.

Monitoring Success

Along with intervention comes the monitoring of success rates, and survey respondents track the HRA success rates in a variety of ways.

The use of employee participation and feedback was cited by most respondents, along with:

* Clinical test results.

* Lifestyle questionnaires.

* Onsite education.

* Administration of HRAs on a yearly basis to compare and monitor improvements in employee health status.

* Annual health management summaries that detail aggregate results from HRA responses (the results also are used to evaluate various company wellness programs).

* HRA updates performed at six-month and 12-month intervals.

* Comparison of HRA results to employee use of sick time, workman’s compensation claims, general health claims data and company HMO utilization.

* Baseline health screenings.

* Tracking the percent of employees identified as “at risk” for a serious health condition, along with the percentage who accept and follow through with subsequent referrals for further medical evaluation or care.

* Quarterly reports that measure increases in participation.

* Executive summary reports compiled before and after HRA administration.

* Estimation of cost savings from employees who have lowered their health risks by improving personal health, such as weight reduction, lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol and reduction of tobacco use.

* Sharing of experiences and personal success stories in wellness department newsletters.

“We can’t discriminate based on outcomes, so we monitor compliance,” noted a wellness program coordinator.

“For instance, if you are told to lose weight, we require that you attend eight sessions of Weight Watchers, for which the company pays,” the coordinator said. “But we don’t require that you actually lose the weight. Compliance is all we can legitimately require.”

Source: Workplace Wellness Management Leadership Survey conducted online at 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

Wellness Executives Say 2008 Better Than Previous Year For Programs

The majority of wellness professionals thought last year was a better year for their programs, according to the Workplace Wellness Management Leadership Survey conducted by the Wellness Program Management Advisor in conjunction with WellnessJunction.com.

Executives were asked whether 2008 was a better year for their programs than the previous year 75.4 percent said it was and only 15.8 percent said it was not.

Maureen Barte, assistant coordinator of the Health and Wellness Institute at the Washington Hospital, agreed 2008 was a better year and added “this is year four of our employee wellness program and the employees are becoming more accustomed to stopping into our offices and joining different programs that are always on-going.”

Another executive said it was a better year “because the outcome measures are becoming more sophisticated and we are planning for expansion.”

A manager of organizational health and well-being said there was “a lot more support and recognition by executives of the importance of health and productivity.”

For Jason J. Paul of the LifeCore Group, 2008 was also better. He said, “many companies are learning that taking a one-time health analysis does not really create any long-term change.”

Another executive said in 2008 “the [wellness] program was all inclusive. Meaning we ensured consistency throughout the organization’s 17 regional locations. Each site has a wellness coordinator with monthly wellness team steering committee meetings and support.

“The company also dedicated significant budget dollars to support the program. Incentives are being used to gain participation.”

Daniel M. Moriarty, human resources manager for Jewish Geriatric Services Inc., said “By engaging the employees we were able to provide programs that they had an actual interest in and felt some ownership in the programs.”

For Gary Morriston, director of human resources at the Howard Training Center, 2008 was better. “United Healthcare/PacificCare became our health benefits carriers and brought an excellent wellness template that we are able to implement on a low budget but with high impact.”

Another respondent said, “By tying our benefits/wellness together, we realized where we needed to drive our programing going forward into 2009. We had a plan instead of scattered efforts at guessing what was working and what was not.”

Not all respondents agreed. For one executive it was not a better year because of the “administration’s emphasis on online programs which are less effective/interactive than traditional classes. [It is] harder to measure outcomes [and we] don’t have the secondary gain of team building and support in the work environment.”

A paricipant also thought 2008 was a worse year and put the blame on less money and more turnover. “Wellness is not at the forefront of our worries, or at least it doesn’t seem to be.”

“Fewer employees participated in our free wellness screening,” said an executive who felt that 2008 was not a better year.


Was 2008 better than the previous tear for your wellness program?
Yes – 75.4 percent

No – 15.8 percent

Unanswered – 8.8 percent

Source: Wellness Professional Salary and Benefit Survey 2008, Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Source: Wellness management Leadership Survey, Wellness Program Management Advisor, and Wellness Junction Professional Update www.wellnessjunction.com




Wellness Programs and Departments Vary in Size and Participation Levels

Worksite wellness program directors are constantly trying to obtain funding and management support, but their health promotion program efforts may be used by hundreds of employees or only a handful of individuals, according to findings of the exclusive ROI survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Department Size

More than 150 wellness program managers responded to our survey; some respondents have a significant number of employees in their departments, while others virtually go it alone, according to the findings.

Thirty-four percent of the respondents said they operate a one-person department; 12 percent said two people comprise their wellness departments and 10 percent said three people staff the department, the study found. Twelve percent said their departments consist of between four and five people, while another 13 percent have between six and 12 department members, according to the findings.

Only 4 percent of the respondents said their departments have between 15 and 25 employees, and only 1 percent said their departments consisted of between 50 and 65 people, the study noted.

Employee Participation

Seventy-five percent, or 115 respondents, said less than 50 percent of employees participate in their company wellness programs; however, 25 percent, or 39 respondents, said more than 50 percent of company employees are active members of worksite wellness programs.

“We are always trying to increase employee participation; it’s a constant ‘brain drain,’” said a wellness program director who manages a staff of six for an employee involvement level that falls below the 50 percent mark.

ROI Survey Results: Employee Wellness Program Participation
Percent of Respondents Company Wellness Program Participation
75 percent Less than 50 percent of company employees
25 percent More than 50 percent of company employees

Source: Wellness Program Management Advisor

“We conduct in-house surveys to try and determine what types of programs employees need or want,” the respondent continued. “Maybe participation isn’t where we want it to be because we’re not addressing the issues that are really important to the people who work here. If that turns out to be the case, we have to correct the situation without delay.”

A manager with a staff of three says although more than 50 percent of the company’s workers are involved in the corporation’s health promotion programs, the participation level is never a sure thing.

“Over the past five years, the amount of employee involvement has bounced around quite a bit,” the manager noted. “I need to keep those numbers up if I expect to get management support and funding for future programs. If there is a less than enthusiastic response to [the wellness programs] we offer, it is harder to justify expenditures.”

Program Evaluation

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they evaluate the results of their wellness programs, while only 7 percent said they do not conduct evaluations, the survey reported.

One percent said although they do not conduct program evaluations at the present time, they plan to do so in the near term; another 1 percent said they do not presently evaluate results and do not plan to change their policy, the study found.

Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Ave., Suite S 200, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100 http://www.healthresourcesonline.com/wellness/18nl.htm

Pedometers Anyone?

Every so often, the subject of good, reliable, and inexpensive pedometers comes up on our Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

Wellness managers, whose programs include walking, like the pedometers to help motivate and excite their organizations walking program participants.

The pedometer topic is one we “recycle” on the Group typically when a wellness manager is or has just begun a walking initiative.

Here are some bits and pieces of the most recent posts on pedometers from the Group.

The question:
“I am coordinating a corporate wellness walking program. I would like to
include pedometers. Please recommend vendors that you’ve used in the
past that offer really good functioning pedometers averagely priced
$4.00 – $5.00 per pedometer.”

I suggest pedometers for $1 from Dollar Tree. They are as accurate as
$10 pedometers. If money is no object try the Omron HJ-720ITC which is
now $29 on Amazon. It comes with a USB cable and you can download data to your PC. The software can also be used to import blood pressure
readings from compatible BP cuffs from Omron.”

“Check the February 09 issue of Consumers Report magazine. They recently rated pedometers. You’ll find the better quality, more expensive models listed – not best for bulk purchase in a corporate program. But, at a
minimum it will be a great resource for your employees if they would
like to purchase some on their own.”

Then, that discussion thread ran into other related points including that of pedometer fatigue.

“Very good idea. My experience after running several pedometer programs is that some people try it for up to a week and quit. A significant
proportion are satisfied with the device and complete most of the
program and then there are the people who want a more accurate device
and purchase their own.”

“We have competitions frequently, Step Challenges, and our associates
form teams to compete against each other for prizes. Usually we give
1st, 2nd, 3rd place prizes to the teams that have the most steps. We do
these frequently throughout the year. Sometimes prizes are as simple as
movie passes but the competition is what gets people pumped!”

There is a wealth of knowledge on the use of pedometers that can be found in the archive of the Wellness Manager Group.

There are just over 1,400 members of the Group. If you are a wellness professional by any title, you are eligible to join the Group.

Just go to: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WellnessManager

The Group is one of the services offered by Wellness Program Management Advisor and the Wellness Management Information Center.

Wellness/Health Promotion Professionals’ Titles Vary Widely; So Do Salary Levels

Workplace wellness professionals’ titles vary widely by organization although their duties are similar in scope, according to an analysis of the results of the Wellness Professionals Salary and Benefits Survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Your title could mean a big difference over what your counterpart with a different title earns who is employed elsewhere. For instance, wellness directors make an average of $10,676, or 20.7 percent, more a year than those holding the title wellness coordinator, according to the survey results based on 2004 data, the most recent year available.

The average salary for wellness directors was $62,238, while the average salary of wellness coordinators was $51,562.

Directors of health promotion participating in the survey averaged 12.6 percent a year less than wellness directors, or $55,296. The spread between a director of health promotion and a wellness coordinator was $3,734 or 6.8 percent, the survey found.

A note of caution, however, is that those who participated in the survey were employed by a variety of organizations including major employers, health plans, hospitals, universities and government agencies.

Also, because participation in the survey is optional among wellness professionals, the chance for missing information, or numbers that are skewed is greater than a more scientific or controlled study.


Free Report:

Predicting the Future of Workplace Wellness Management: Bright, Growing, Transforming,” a free report for wellness professionals and those interested in a career in the profession, is available for immediate download. There is no cost or obligation.



Wellness professionals’ salaries for 2004 ranged from a high of $95,000, up from $94,000 in 2003, to a low of $20,300, up $300 over 2003. The overall salary average of those participating in the survey was $51,620.

Among respondents, 42.4 percent had “wellness” in their title, while “health promotion” titles accounted for 12.1 percent of those who responded.

By titles, “coordinator” was the most frequent with 26.5 percent of participants, followed by “manager” with 22 percent, and “director” with 18.9 percent.

But titles are all over the “ballpark.” Here is a representative sample of who participated in the survey: wellness coordinator, wellness director, wellness/fitness manager, corporate wellness coordinator, director community health and wellness, director of health promotion, director, worksite preventive health, employee health/wellness coordinator, health and wellness coordinator, health improvement manager, health promotion manager, health education and wellness manager and wellness program manager.

The survey was conducted online among wellness professionals and subscribers to Wellness Program Management Advisor, Wellness Junction Professional Update and members of the Wellness Managers Professional Discussion Group.

Source: Wellness Professionals’ Salary and Benefits Survey.

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

Workplace Wellness Services Run the Gamut, Study Finds

Workplace Wellness Services Run the Gamut, Study Finds

Wellness professionals say stress management is one of the most-requested services of worksite health promotion programs; if a worksite wellness organization offers a stress management seminar, it is always well-attended.

If there is no such program on the agenda, employees request it — and request it often, according to the exclusive ROI survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor.


Almost 95 percent of the Workplace Wellness Management Survey respondents said some form of stress management was part of their wellness curriculum; relaxation techniques, massage therapy and mind-body programs were components of various stress management programs offered by worksite wellness groups, the survey found.

“Our employees are concerned about all aspects of their health,” said a wellness program coordinator whose overall program budget exceeds $50,000. “But stress is always right up there at the top of the list. Everything else they do to maintain their health doesn’t matter as much if they feel they can’t cope with things on a daily basis.”

The respondent added that employees who feel better about their ability to manage stress levels are more likely to participate in other wellness programs.

“It [stress management] has a major impact on their general attitudes and how they feel about themselves,” the respondent noted. “If people feel calm and in control, they feel empowered. And if they’re empowered, they often find the energy and desire to do other positive things, like joining a weight-loss program. Or they might decide to quit smoking. It has a domino effect in the best sense.”

Other survey respondents noted that participants in stress management programs often sought relief from depression as well.

“During a discussion after a stress management seminar, at least a dozen people mentioned depression and stress in the same sentence,” said a wellness program coordinator. “One problem seems to feed off the other.”


Respondents said employees showed enthusiasm for weight control and fitness groups, while interest in blood pressure, nutrition and general heath screening programs also ranked high. Here are some of the most popular services included in worksite wellness programs, according to our survey respondents:

     * Stress management: 95 percent.

     * High blood pressure: 94 percent.

     * Weight control: 93 percent.

     * General fitness: 91 percent.

     * Health screenings: 89 percent.

     * Nutrition: 87 percent.

     * Smoking cessation: 80 percent.

     * Health risk assessments: 77 percent.

     * Disease management: 69 percent.

     * Health education classes: 61 percent.

     * Employee assistance programs: 54 percent.

     * Onsite fitness centers: 49 percent.

Health club subsidies were mentioned by 40 percent of the respondents, while prenatal care was noted by 39 percent, according to the survey.

Respondents included games of sport, such as bowling and softball, in the general fitness category, along with walking, running, aerobics and cardio-vascular exercises; others noted breast cancer exams, cholesterol testing and the monitoring of glucose levels in the health screening category.

Those interested in disease management said diabetes, obesity, glaucoma and chronic pain control (including problems stemming from arthritis) were chief concerns, the survey found.

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