Tag Archives: worksite health promotion

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/

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

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

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

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

Are You Making the Most of Your Wellness Committee?

Workplace wellness and health promotion professionals agree that the heart of a successful wellness program lies in a dynamic wellness committee.

A couple of days ago a member of our Linkedin Workplace Wellness Management Group asked this question of group members: “While forming a wellness committee, do you have candidates apply to participate? Should candidates fit certain criteria? How do you ensure that you are capturing appropriate committee members?”

All good questions that shows that the member aims to build a successful wellness program.

Regarding candidates meeting certain criteria the committee should have a good 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