Tag Archives: workplace wellness

Proposed New Rule Would Amend ADA, ACA Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness programs that may be part of a group health plan or  are offered outside of a group health plan will be affected under proposed regulations released by the The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC. The agency is accepting comments that must be received by the Commission on or before June 19, 2015.

This proposed rule provides guidance on the extent to which the ADA permits employers to offer incentives to employees to promote participation in wellness programs that are employee health programs, said the EEOC.

The agency said references in the proposed rule regarding the requirement to provide a notice and the use of incentives, and changes to the corresponding section of the interpretive guidance, apply only to wellness programs that are part of or provided by a group health plan or by a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance in connection with a group health plan.

The term “group health plan” includes both insured and self-insured group health plans and is used interchangeably with the term “health plan” throughout the preamble.

“All of the other proposed changes to the regulations apply to all “health programs,” which include wellness programs whether or not they are offered as part of or outside of a group health plan or group health insurance coverage. The term “incentives” includes both financial and in-kind incentives, such as time-off awards, prizes, or other items of value,” the agency said.

Several law firms analyzed the proposed changes.

Following are links to several of the reviews:

HHS releases HIPAA guidance on workplace wellness programs | Data Privacy and Security Insider.

http://www.employmentmattersblog.com/2015/04/the-eeoc-provides-welcome-guidance-on-employment-based-wellness-plans/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/five-ways-the-eeoc-proposed-wellness-reg-23794/

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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

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

“A Rose By Any Other Name……What’s In a Name….Or, In This Case Your Job Title?

The position titles of individuals managing or administering an organization’s wellness or health promotion program is high up on the searches by visitors to Wellness Manager.

The simple search query is “wellness titles.”

Although their duties are similar in scope, yes, workplace wellness professionals’ titles vary widely by organization, based on research by the Wellness Management Information Center.

Wellness professionals’ titles, it seems, are all over the “ballpark.”

By title, “coordinator” was the most frequent with 26.5 percent of participants, followed by “manager” with 22 percent, and “director” with 18.9 percent, found our research survey.

However, among all survey respondents, 42.4 percent had the word “wellness” as part of their title, while “health promotion” titles accounted for 12.1 percent of those who responded.

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Secrets to Wellness and Health Promotion ROI: How Successful Managers Attract and Motivate Increased Participation in PDF Format

Get success stories, expert advice, proven methods, practical goals, and “how-to” tips in this report created by our editorial team as an ‘insider’ briefing for workplace wellness and health promotion professionals.

Secrets To Wellness and Health Promotion ROI: How Successful Managers Attract and Motivate Increased Participation  

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Following is a representative sample of titles that we identified based on our survey:

wellness coordinator, wellness director, wellness/fitness manager, corporate wellness coordinator, director community health and wellness, director of health promotion, director,  and, worksite preventive health.

Also, employee health/wellness coordinator, health and wellness coordinator, health improvement manager, health promotion manager, health education and wellness manager and wellness program manager.

Share your thoughts with us:

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

Collaboration Key To A Successful Wellness Program

Strategic planning and collaboration are keys to executing a successful corporate wellness program, according to Mike Wenadka, employee wellness manager at ConAgra Foods.

ConAgra Foods, as Wenadka explained, is a company that produces and markets such brands as Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Healthy Choice, Pam, Hunts and Swiss Miss, among other brands.

The company has approximately 20,000 employees in addition to 10,000 spouses, which are included as eligible for the wellness program. Continue reading

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

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.”

HIPAA

“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.”

Resources

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