Are Wellness Programs Cost-Effective?


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 28-08-2010

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that comprehensive wellness programs, or Wellness Programs, can lower healthcare and insurance costs, reduce rates of absenteeism, and improve performance and productivity.

Other benefits demonstrated in studies include improved ability to attract and retain key personnel, greater worker allegiance, and improved public image of the company.

Healthcare and Insurance Costs

A number of studies provide evidence of lower medical and insurance costs for participants in wellness programs, especially wellness programs involving exercise.

For $30 per individuals, the Bank of America conducted a wellness program for retirees using a risk assessment questionnaire, self-care books and other mailed materials. Insurance claims were decreased an average of $164 per year in this group while they increased $15 for the control group.

Since they were able to document significant changes in risk behavior, they anticipate greater savings in future years.

Pacific Bell’s FitWorks participants claim $300 less per case for a one-year savings of $700,000. Savings for conditions related to a sedentary lifestyle are $722 per case.

Coca Cola reported a reduction in health care claims with an exercise programalone, saving $500 per employee per year for the workers (60%) who joined their HealthWorks fitness program.

Prudential Insurance Corporation reports that the corporation’s major health care costs dropped from $574 to $312 for each participant in its wellness program.

Decreased Absenteeism

Absenteeism has been shown to be impacted by corporate wellness and wellness programs. the evidence indicates a meaningful reduction in absenteeism and resultant dollars saved thus of staff member fitness plans.

Pacific Bell’s FitWorks program decreased absent days .8 percent to save $2 million in one year. FitWorks members also spent 3.3 days less on short-term disability for an additional savings of $4.7 million.

Focusing wellness efforts on high-risk staff members can lead to better results. A national manufacturing corporation reports a decrease of 12.2 percent in disease days for these staff members.

A two-year study by the DuPont Corporation of the effect of its extensive wellness program on absences among workers reports that blue-collar workers at intervention sites had a 14 percent decline in disability days vs. 5.8 percent decline for controls. There were a sum of 11,726 fewer net disability days.

Enhanced Performance, Productivity and Morale

A number of businesss with wellness programs report documented improvement in job attitude, work performance, energy level, and/or overall morale among program participants–all critical factors in enhancing productivity.

A Johnson and Johnson study found that employee attitude changes were greater at wellness intervention sites with significant positive attitude changes noted in the categories of organizational commitment, supervision, working conditions, job competence/security, and pay/benefits.

In a Canadian government study, the Canada Life Assurance Business experimental group realized a 4 percent increase in productivity after starting an worker fitness program, compared to the control group.

Moreover, 47 percent of program participants reported that they felt more alert, had better rapport with their coworkers, and generally enjoyed their work more.

Swedish investigators found that mental performance was significantly better in physically fit workers than in non-fit workers. Fit workers committed 27 percent fewer errors on tasks involving concentration and short-term memory, as compared with the performance of non-fit workers.

The Bottom Line

The following sample of corporate wellness wellness program results have been stated by individual companys –

Company –  Dollars Saved/Dollars Spent

• Bank of America (Fries) –  $5.96/$1

• PacBell –  $3.10/$1

• Wisconsin School District Insurance Group –  $4.47/$1

• Prudential Insurance –  $2.90/$1

• Bank of America (Leigh) –  $4.73/$1

• General Mills –  $3.50/$1


There is compelling evidence that a sizable portion of the billions of dollars currently spent by corporations on health-related costs is avoidable by means of wellness programming.

Well-planned, extensive wellness programs (wellness programs and worker wellness programs) have been proven to be cost-effective, particularly when the wellness programming is matched to the health problems of the specific worker

Wellness Programs on a Budget.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 27-08-2010

Free Wellness Programs and Inexpensive Health Management Alternatives

Begin a free wellness program or run a successful health management program in the office for little or no cost to your company. the advantages of corporate wellness and learning how to start a health management program at work are many.

The articles on health management have generated a selection of questions, mainly from wellness providers but also from corporations trying to start their own wellness workplace programs. There are a number of things to do to begin a successful health management program at work.

Suggestions for Starting a Free or Affordable Wellness Program

Before beginning a low cost or free wellness program for your business, learn more about what staff members want. Survey staff members to learn more about their wellness concerns.

Keep the survey confidential to protect employees’ identities. Normally the most popular corporate wellness topics are use of tobacco cessation, weight loss concerns and heart and cholesterol health.

Look for Corporate Wellness Freebies

Find out who will come in for free to talk to workers and explore partnerships with outside agents related to corporate wellness.

For example, contact a local branch of a well-known weight loss business and ask when someone can come in and speak to employees. Look for agencies that are willing to come in and talk about topics related to wellness at no cost to employees, in exchange for something from you.

Find Corporate Wellness Partnerships

Working with a weight loss corporation to set up a speaking engagement for staff members is the perfect opportunity to explore a potential wellness partnership.

The weight loss company might say that when 10 staff members join the program, they will hold weekly meetings at company headquarters for the individuals  who joined. the weight loss group also might offer company staff members a discount when a few individuals  join the program.

Nonprofits an Untapped Health Management Resource

There are also plenty of nonprofit agencies who’d be thrilled to visit a business to discuss health management. But it’s up to you to offer them something in return.

For  instance, when the MS Society came in and talked about the signs of MS, the corporation could offer to organize an MS walk (in keeping with corporation health management goals, right?), or an auction with employee and company-donated items where the proceeds go to MS.

The people  at the nonprofit agencies would be glad to open a dialog with your corporation and to talk about what they would want in return for a speaking engagement. In many cases, they will not need anything at all for a first meeting.

Gathering Data and Investigating Wellness Program Results

Accumulating data and investigating  results of a wellness program may be tricky because of HIPPA laws. Nevertheless, when at least 10 employees joined the weight loss program, or 20 individuals  participate daily in the all-new “Let’s Walk a Mile at Lunch” program, that sort of progress can speak strongly to senior-level management.

And, corporation successes will potentially give management more incentive to provide money for additional health management and wellness programs in the future.

Wellness Programs.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 26-08-2010

Small business wellness programs are catching on. A well-designed wellness program can increase productivity, boost morale and vitality, reduce stress, reduce absenteeism, and control preventable healthcare costs within an organization.

The beauty of it is that you’re simply assisting employees to make smart choices so the costs of beginning a wellness program are minimal compared to the benefits.

Worker health is a major concern for small company owners. In a small shop, even a few sick employees can disrupt the flow of the workplace and bring the operation to a standstill.

Instead of sitting back and hoping for the best, some owners are taking the matter of staff member health into their own hands by starting staff member wellness programs. Here’s how they work . . .

Overview of staff member wellness programs

Staff Member wellness programs are programs initiated by the corporation to improve the overall health of their labor force and to help individual employees overcome specific health-related hurdles.

These programs could be offered in a selection of formats –  In mandatory staff training sessions, as voluntary seminars, or through a third-party provider offering a wide-range of employee assistance programs.

In every case, notwithstanding, the corporation foots the bill for the programs because an investment in worker health is a company investment that directly impacts the corporation’s bottom line.

Why offer staff member wellness programs?

Apart from the apparent concern for the health of your workers, there are a few other reasons why staff member wellness programs make sense for small businesses. Right off the bat, your business will benefit from the lowered level of absenteeism that goes hand in hand with a healthy workforce.

Wellness programs will also reduce the number of injuries that occur in the workplace, not just from accidents, but also from repetitive motion and other recurring sources.

Since even a minor blip in worker attendance can have a large impact on a small business, a more reliable workforce will inevitably translate into a smoother work cycle and a more robust bottom line.

Wellness Program Features

Wellness programs can cover a wide range of health-related topics. Based on your employees’ needs, it’s entirely up to you to determine the type of programming you want to offer.

However, most employee wellness programs offer some at least some programs in the following areas –

• Nutrition. Diet can significantly impact an employee’s ability to do their job effectively. Nutritional programs educate staff members about food options and equip them to make healthy dietary options.

• Physical Fitness. In addition to diet, exercise is an important factor in a healthy lifestyle. Wellness programs frequently provide employees with opportunities to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.

• Tobacco use Cessation. Statistics prove that smokers tend to fall ill more frequently than their non-tobacco use colleagues. Since sick workers disrupt the workplace, tobacco use cessation programs are a no-brainer for both corporations and workers.

• Physiological Testing. Many businesss offer physiological as a regular part of their wellness programs. Cholesterol tests, blood pressure (BP) screenings, and other simple exams can provide early warning signs for more serious problems.

• Stress Management. Stress itself takes a toll on staff members. However, stress is also linked to other health problems such as depression, cardiovascular illness, diabetes, and obesity. Wellness programs that help staff members deal with stress improve not only the psychological health of your staff members, but their physical health as well.

Corporate Wellness.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 25-08-2010

Start a Wellness Program for Your Workers Today

The benefits to starting a wellness program are many.

A few corporate wellness tips to get workers started on the path to a healthier lifestyle –

1. Look around, and determine when workers lead a healthy lifestyle before beginning an worker wellness program.

• How many workers dash outside during lunch for a smoke break?
• Would a tobacco use cessation program help?
• How often do the junk food-laden vending machines have to be replenished?
• is anyone exercising or taking benefit of local walking trails as part of their healthful living goals?

The answers to these questions will give businesses a better idea of the worker wellness program that’s right for them.

2. Survey workers to determine their healthful lifestyle habits.

• Are they exercising regularly?
• Eat three square meals a day?
Have regular physicals? Really? Then what planet are they on?

Because we’d love to visit! A wellness program benefits most businesses because workers do not have the time or energy to stay on top of wellness concerns at work or when they leave the office to go home.

3. Provide wellness programs a large kick-off with a healthy living “fair.” Offer workers free flu shots, blood pressure (BP) checks, cholesterol screenings, body/fat ratio assessments, use of tobacco cessation programs and free mammograms- and contact the local hospital, because there’s plenty more where this came from.

Companies keep their workers hopping during the week. Give workers a chance to amp up their healthy lifestyle on the business dime. A wellness program is an added benefit that workers get for working for the company!

4. Incent to live- offer cash money for employees to lose weight, commit to a tobacco use cessation program and ordinarily enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Be sure to encourage humankind’s innate competitive nature by offering prizes for wellness worker “winners.” And, encourage a healthier lifestyle by sponsoring workers who want to enter a local 5K for charity race, run a marathon or play a sport.

Wellness Program Facts.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 24-08-2010

Wellness Program Introduction

The last ten years has brought major changes in business attitudes toward wellness programs. Interest in self-help and self-care programs has increased as growth in healthcare costs have encroached substantially into profits.

Changes in the organizational structures of healthcare facilities, namely the growth of the for-profit healthcare sector, and the need to contain costs are changing the ways in which purchasers of healthcare plans are viewing their own efforts toward provision of worksite healthcare programs and facilities.

Projections for the next decade indicate that worksite health programs will continue to become important factors in the provision of health care, including avoidance activities, for both government and private industry.

In companies with existing wellness programs, administrative rationale for sponsoring these activities ranged from bettering worker health (28%) to bettering worker morale (9.7%).

Programs include interventions associated with safety, health risk (assessment|appraisal}, tobacco use cessation, blood pressure (BP) control, nutrition programs and stress management. Benefits cited range from improved health and productivity to reducing healthcare costs.

Demographics of the United States  Workforce

• 110 million Americans were in the civilian labor force in 1981; by the year 2000 the civilian labor force is expected to be almost 140 million.

• 44% of the 1984 labor force was female; 10% was Black.

• the median age of the workforce is 32 years and is expected to increase to 32 years by 2030.

• 57.9 percent of all staff members work in corporations with between 2 and 500 employees; 45 percent work in corporations with fewer than 100 staff members. an additional 7.5 million Americans are self-employed and 3 million are farmers.

• 18 percent of all wage and salaried employees in 1985 were union members.            

• 45 percent of all workers are employed in offices.            

Prevalence of Corporate Wellness Activities            

Based on a 1985 survey, almost 66% of worksites with 50 or more staff members had corporate wellness activities in 1985.  The frequency of worksite-based activities by selected categories in 1985 was –             

Wellness Program Activities            

Smoking Control          35.60%   

Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal}    29.50%         

Back Care             28.60%

Stress Management       26.60%      

Exercise             22.10%

Off the Job Accidents    19.80%         

Nutrition             16.80%

Blood Pressure Control    16.50%         

Weight Control          14.70%   

Worksite size is the strongest indicator of program prevalence.            

Most employees believe the advantages of their corporate wellness activities outweigh the costs, even though few formal examinations exist.            

The most frequently cited reason for starting programs and perceived benefit from programs is improved worker health.

At most worksites with activities (85.4%), all employees are eligible to participate. 30% of worksites with activities offer them to corporation dependents, and an equal% offer them to retirees.

When worksites seek outside program assistance, they turn to voluntary, not-for-profit organizations (57.1%), private for-profit providers-consultants (50%), local hospitals (44%), and insurance corporations (43%).

Use of tobacco Cessation Programs

Tobacco use related health problems cost U.S.  corporations $26 billion per year in lost productivity and $7 to $8 billion in smoking-related health costs.

Staff Members who smoke are 50% more likely to be hospitalized than nonsmokers, have 2 times as many job-related accidents as nonsmokers and have absenteeism rates approximately 50% higher than nonsmokers.

People  who smoked an typical of one or more packs of cigarettes per day had 118% higher health care expenses than nonsmokers.

76% of current smokers and 80% of former smokers and nonsmokers feel that businesses should restrict smoking to certain areas.

In 1985, 65% of smokers, 85% of nonsmokers and 78% of former smokers, felt that smokers should refrain from use of tobacco in the presence of nonsmokers.

In 1986, 17 states had laws regulating smoking in offices or workplaces either in government-controlled offices or offices of private workers.

Examples of smoking cessation intervention program used by companies include –

• offering nonsmokers a discount of health and life insurance;

• compensating full or partial fees for smoking cessation programs;

• providing cessation programs on corporation or shared time;

• offering cash payments to quitters after 6 of 12 tobacco-free months;

• participating in national quit smoking days; and

• adopting a smoke free company policy and establishing deadlines for implementing the policy.

Fitness Programs

An active 55-year-old man can lead as vigorous a lifestyle as a sedentary 35-year-old.

Differences in work-related activity has been shown to yield a two- to three-fold difference in cardiovascular deaths between active employees and their more sedentary counterparts.

In addition to improving strength, balance, and flexibility, fitness plans can reduce  the probability of back injuries among certain occupational groups.

93 million workdays in the United States are lost yearly as the result of back problems.

Research findings support the notion that worksite exercise programs improve fitness and help reduce other health risks, although results related to improved productivity are weak due to lack of methods for accurately measuring productivity.

A very small proportion of worksites have onsite physical fitness facilities.

The majority of employees sponsored fitness programs involve skills training like aerobic dance, low impact aerobics, resistance training, preand post-natal exercise classes, and walking/jogging groups.

Some businesses subsidize worker participation in community “Ys,” health clubs or other community programs if no onsite facilities are available.

Worksite physical fitness programs could reduce costs to companys by decreasing staff member health care claims and expenditures.

Individuals  whose weekly exercise was equivalent to climbing less than five flights of stairs or walking less than a half mile, spent 114% more on health claims than those who climbed at least 15 flights of stairs or walked 1 1/2 miles weekly.

Health care costs for obese people  are roughly 11 percent higher than those for thin people .

Nutrition and Weight Control

One-third of the United States  population is obese to the extent of lowering their life expectancy.

Improvements in eating habits may reduce  the risk of serious health problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is instrumental in the control of non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

The workplace offers several advantages for nutrition education; support and influence of coworkers and management, availability of a daily eating situation, and opportunities for follow-up and monitoring.

Worksite nutrition programs can be grouped in 6 wide categories –

• cafeteria programs;

• multi-component programs;

• weight control programs;

• cholesterol reduction programs;

• programs for pregnant and lactating women; and

• other nutrition education topics.

Men are less likely to participate in weight-loss programs than are female workers.

Stress Management

Estimates suggest that 50 percent to 80 percent of doctor visits can be attributed to psychosomatic or stress-related origins.

Corporation pays many of the costs related to employee stress, both directly in the form of healthcare costs and in lower productivity.

Job factors which are associated with stress include –

• not allowing workers to participate in decisions about the work process;

• positions which require more or less skill than the staff member has;

• changes in work demands;

• lack of clarity about expectations and standards; and

• conflict with colleagues or supervisors.

Most worksite stress management programs are implemented then of requests from employees.

Stress management programs focus on three types of skills –  relaxation skills, coping skills, and interpersonal skills.

Worksite stress management programs are often delivered in one of three formats –

• workshops conducted by trained professionals;

• self-learning tools; and

• personal teaching to assist with self-assessment, planning for changes, learning new skills and responding to life crises.

The two major techniques used in worksite stress management programs are –

• teaching people  to reduce the negative physical effects of stress; and

• teaching people  to recognize and control sources of stress at work and in personal life.

Seat Belt Usage

Motor car accidents are the largest single cause of lost work time and on-the-job fatalities of U.S.  business.

Motor car accidents account for 27% of all work-related deaths and 45 million days of lost work yearly.

More than 36% of the 11,300 accidental work deaths in 1983 involved cars.

Workers who routinely fail to use seat belts may spend up to 54 percent more days in the hospital.

Traffic accidents caused about 3 times as many days of restricted activity as any other type of disability.

Motor car crashes cost $15.2 billion in lost productivity, 88 percent of which is attributed to losses from workforce activities and future earnings.

In corporate settings where safety belt policies, requiring use of belts by anyone riding in a business car or using a private car on business business, have been enforced, 60 percent to 90 percent use has been reported.

Incentive programs, accompanied by education and use requirement restrictions have resulted in 40 percent to 70 percent initial usage rates.

Factors influencing the sources of worksite safety belt programs include –

• active commitment for management;

• obviously defined and well enforced policy of required belt use on the job;

• positive incentives; and

• ongoing education and training programs.

Case Studies of Wellness Programs

Based on an comprehensive analysis of its comprehensive staff member wellness program, LIVE FOR LIFE, Johnson and Johnson announced the break-even point for the program occurs in year 3 and by year 5 they have a net advantage of $316 per staff member. Their year 9 projected benefit is $677 per staff member.

Employees at four Johnson and Johnson corporations who were exposed to the wellness program increased their daily energy expenditure in vigorous activity by 104 percent compared to an increase of 33 percent among employees at corporations that were offered only an annual health test.

Participants in the United Methodist Publishing House’s wellness program submitted more claims (1.14 per participating worker and .82 for the control in 1984, 1.44 and 1.3 respectively in 1985), but the typical cost per claim was less for participants ($316 for participants and $567 for control, in 1984, $262 and $602 respectively in 1985, $270 and $566 respectively in the first four months of 1986).

The United Methodist Publishing House attributes some of the lower than projected use in healthcare costs for 1985 ($902,116 projected with actual costs $142,884) to the wellness program even though the results aren’t conclusive.

In 1985, the Adolph Coors Business conducted a telephone interview of a random sample of its 10,000 workers to determine changes in health practices since the introduction of an worker wellness program 4 years earlier.

The sample of 495 staff members was stratified to match the corporation profile as for age, sex and job description.

The survey stated that 65% of respondents began exercising in the last 4 years, 37% had improved their diets, 20% were regular users of the wellness center, 9% had stopped smoking as the result of the corporation’s smoking cessation program and regular participants of the wellness center miss an average of 1.96 workdays each year because of illness or injury compared to 3.08 days for non-participating employees.

The Coors Corporation also achieved a cost savings from a cardiac rehabilitation program that was implemented in 1981. In 1980 employees were out of work 7.2 months after a heart attack or bypass operation.

In 1984, cardiac patients were out an typical 1.9 months saving $152,000 in lost work time and in 1985 cardiac patients missed an typical of 2.6 months, saving $125,000 that year.

Wellness Programs.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 23-08-2010

Corporate Fitness Programs Improve Employee Wellness

Instituting a wellness program improves the health of workers, decreases employee absenteeism and saves the company money, too. Learn more about beginning an employee wellness program in the office.

Benefits of Wellness Programs

• A corporation investment of $100-$150 per worker annually to participate in an worker wellness program can save companies $300 to $450 for each worker every year, according to Ron Goetzel, Director, Cornell University Institute for Health and Productivity Studies.

The savings can take a few years to actualize, says Goetzel, and are seen in reduced health expenditures.

• the Wellness Councils of America announced a $24 return for every $1 spent on a business wellness program for small companies.

• According to a 2005 survey by the Art of Wellness, businesses who instituted staff member wellness programs realized a 30 percent reduction in medical and absenteeism costs in less than four years.

A successful wellness program starts with corporation leaders. Business owners should lead by example, taking part in their corporation’s corporate fitness program and working closely with a wellness coach.

Corporation leaders should be certain employees are well aware of their wellness efforts, posting weight loss results or use of tobacco cessation results on company intranet or bulletin boards for everybody to see.

Employee Wellness Programs that Really Work

• Be certain to encourage staff members to kick begin their own wellness programs by visiting their doctor. A complete physical should include information about blood sugar, cholesterol levels and general health.

• Target specific health-related concerns in a corporate fitness program. Information about how to fight obesity, smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse ought to be at the forefront of an staff member wellness program, along with related conditions.

• Hire a wellness coach to instruct workers on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

• Reward employees for participating in company wellness programs. Let employees accrue wellness points that they can redeem for prizes.

Make the prizes healthful, too- a free massage, private training session with the corporation’s wellness coach or health food gift certificate encourages even healthier lifestyle options.

• Acknowledge employee wellness leaders in company newsletters, in posted bulletins and on the company intranet.

Corporation Wellness Programs Yield Big Results

For business owners who want to elevate worker participation in a business wellness program, consider Johnson and Johnson’s approach.

Faced with only 26 percent of workers participating in their staff member wellness program, Johnson and Johnson offered workers a $500 discount on health insurance costs when they completed a health risk profile.

The number of employees participating in the Johnson and Johnson corporate fitness program jumped after they offered the incentive — to more than 93 percent.

Ron Goetzel encourages those looking to pitch a corporate fitness program to corporation leaders to use basic facts about the benefits of staff member wellness programs as part of their argument.

Keep it simple, and share results from other corporation’s employee wellness program success stories.

Designing a Wellness Program.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 22-08-2010

Five reasons to have a wellness program   

1   The USA spends more dollars on health care than any other nation yet we aren’t the world’s healthiest

• Largely sedentary   

• Use of tobacco is still popular   

• Stress is at epidemic levels (WHO)   

• Alcohol continues to take its toll on American Citizens   

2   Much of the illness in the United States is preventable

• Tobacco and alcohol are leading causes of death   

• as much as 70% of the cost of healthcare is driven by preventable illness   

3   Health Care costs continue to rise

• Healthcare premiums continue to rise and to be passed on to the employee   

• Health Care cost are normally the number one benefit cost to most employers    

4   The worksite is an ideal establishing to address health and well being

• Most Americans work   

• Poor health habits take a toll on American business   

• Companys have a vested interest in health related issues.   

5   Research validates that wellness programs can improve health, save money, and even produce a ROI.

• Aldana,S.G. (1998). Financial impact of corporate wellness and methodological quality of the evidence. the Art of Wellness. Vol 2, Number 1.   

• Wilson, M.G. (1996). A comprehensive review of the effects of corporate wellness on health related outcomes –  an update. the American Journal of wellness. Vol 10, Number 6.   

• Wilson, M.G. (1996). A extensive review of the effects of corporate wellness on health related outcomes –  an update. the American Journal of wellness. Vol 11, Number 2.   

• Chapman, L.S. Proof Positive –  an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of corporate wellness. 3rd ed. Seattle –  Summex Corporation, 1996.   

• Pelletier, K.R. A review of the health and cost-effective outcomes studies of extensive wellness and disease avoidance programs at the worksite –  1993-1995 Update. the American Journal of Health and Promotion. Vol. 10, Number 5.   

Key Components of a Wellness Program   

Physical Wellness – Focuses on the development, maintenance, or betterment of one’s fitness   

Sample Physical Wellness Programs / Seminars

• Annual biometric screening

• Regular exercise

• Good safety habits

Emotional Wellness – Focuses on all aspects of mental fitness

Sample Emotional Wellness Programs / Workshops

• Stress management workshops

• Dealing with aging

• Addictive behaviors

• Parenting

Financial Wellness – Focuses on improving the quality of life of workers by helping families and person in becoming financially stable

Sample Financial Wellness Programs / Seminars

• Financial management

• Savings and Investing

• Credit and Purchasing

• Insurance and Estate Planning

Spiritual Wellness – Focuses on promoting a healthy inner self

Sample Spiritual Wellness Programs / Seminars

• Make certain to encourage daily devotional readings

• Give regular service opportunities

• Give a daily/weekly/monthly chapel (meditation) time during work hours

Nutritional Wellness – Will meet the needs of the staff members through group and individual nutritional services

Sample Nutritional Wellness Programs / Workshops

• Individual nutritional Assessment

• Individual and group counseling

• Educational classes

• Weight loss programs

Wellness Program Return on Investment.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 21-08-2010

A lot of employers, as part of their efforts to contain rising health care costs, are starting worksite programs variously described as wellness, lifestyle programs, health and productivity management, population health management and, simply, wellness programs.

The purpose of this article is to consider whether such programs improve health. If so, do they in turn reduce utilization of health care services and reduce health care expenditures?

The popular media have done much to promote the concept of corporate wellness. Last year, In Business –  Madison1 magazine printed a story accompanied by a table reporting an impressive range of returns on investment (ROI) –

Return on Investment (Per dollar ROI for lifestyle programs)

• Coors $6.15

• Kennecott $5.78

• Equitable Life $5.52

• Citibank $4.56

• General Mills $3.90

• Travelers $3.40

• Motorola $3.15

• PepsiCo $3.00

• Unum Life $1.81

Source –  2004 T.E. Brennan Company, as reported

Would these ROIs stand up to rigorous empirical analysis of the data? What factors produce such disparate returns among these programs? and does the published literature, subject to coworker review of scientific methods, support the ROIs announced here?

Health and Productivity Management

Illness and injury associated with an unhealthful lifestyle or modifiable risk factors is reported to account for at least 25% of employee healthcare expenditures.

The most meaningful of these risk factors are stress, tobacco use, overweight or obesity, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol use, and poor nutritional habits.

Over the past two decades, a selection of groups at the local, state, and national levels have promoted the theory that health risk reduction and care management programs can improve worker health, and that worksite health education, health risk management, and benefit counseling should complement standard medical insurance benefits.

The intensity of wellness programs range from bulletin board,  handout or newsletter information to onsite fitness facilities, health risk reduction classes, and personal lifestyle change coaching.

Wellness programs today often include a health risk (assessment|appraisal}  to evaluate each employee’s modifiable risk factors of disease. Program coordinators then target interventions to those that are at increased risk through personal communications and individual follow-up.

Comprehensive wellness programs may include courses on health risk reduction and job safety, fitness and exercise activities, fitness center memberships, and reductions in co-payments or premiums for employees who adhere to recommended health screening guidelines.

Along with this, some businesss are restructuring health benefits and encouraging employees’ cost-sensitivity when accessing healthcare.5 These changes are intended to reduce employees’ need for and utilization of healthcare, yielding decreased group health care costs.

Demonstrated reductions in health care expenditures should then provide employers with a powerful bargaining chip in negotiating lower medical insurance premiums during future terms.

Evidence basis –  A range of ROI estimates

The empirical research has produced results as varied as the popular media on ROI. Nevertheless, evidence continues to grow that well-designed and well-resourced wellness and illness prevention programs provide multi-faceted payback on investment.

Coworker-reviewed examinations and meta analyses show that ROI is achieved through improved employee health, lowered benefit expense, and enhanced productivity.

• Goetzel and peers, in their meta-analysis of two dozen articles summarizing economic analysiss of health and productivity management programs, found an typical return of $3.14 per $1 invested in traditional wellness programs. the ROI estimates for the individual programs ranged from $1.49 to $13.7,

• Aldana reviewed 72 articles and concluded that wellness programs achieve an average ROI of $3.48 when considering healthcare costs alone, $5.82 per $1 when examining absenteeism, and $4.30 when both outcomes are considered.

• Ozminkowski and collagues conducted a 38 month case study of 23,000 participants in Citibank, N.A.’s health management program and announced that within a 2 year period, Citibank realized a ROI between $4.56 and $4.73.10  

Follow-up studies found improvements in the risk profiles of participants, with the high-risk group improving more than the “usual care” group1 as a result of more intensive programming.

• Chapman’s 2004 meta-evaluation of 42 studies, ranking overall validity of the studies, reports cost-benefit ratios from $2.05-$4.64.

In addition to immediately quantifiable cost reductions, scientists have announced a selection of spin-off benefits –  greater productivity, intellectual capacity, and reductions in disability12 and absenteeism.9,13,14,15

Such programs might also have positive effects on staff member perceptions of the business and staff member morale, even among nonparticipants.  These outcomes go beyond savings in direct healthcare costs to provide non-health related ROI.

Tailoring program to maximize ROI Wellness programs aim to reduce the health risks of employees at high risk while maintaining the health status of those at low risk.

A variety of disease management (DM) interventions are available to fit the specific risk profiles of various worksites. Insurers and corporations now seek to calibrate their interventions for achieve optimal risk reduction and costeffectiveness.

In 2001, Univ. of Michigan scientists stated on stable trends in healthcare costs for over 2 million current and former staff members in an 18 year data set.

The mean cost increase per risk factor gained ($350) was found to be more than double the mean cost decrease per eliminated risk factor ($150).

In other words, increases in costs when groups of employees moved from low risk to high risk were much greater than the lowers in costs when groups moved from high risk to low risk. Their conclusion –  Programs designed to keep healthful individuals  healthful will likely provide the greatest return on investment.

On the contrary, Pelletier’s meta-analysis and other program investigations18 suggest that individualized risks reduction for high-risk staff members within the context of comprehensive programming is the vital element in achieving positive clinical and cost outcomes in worksite interventions.


A few factors may affect the impact of various programs and the ultimate ROI, including cultural and environmental factors, workforce demographics, level of participation and longevity of the program.

Most cost-benefit studies have been conducted in big companies with more than fifty workers. But researchers have shown that similar results could be obtained by small companies with as few as five workers actively involved in a well-managed program.

Various studies also suggest that even relatively modest levels of participation can achieve substantial program impact. Contrary to reports by the popular media that such programs require more than 70% participation, published reports of at least one case showed positive ROI with 51% participation.

Length of intervention appears to be a more salient variable –  an impact on healthcare costs normally requires three-to five years of programming.

Future developments

Despite the abundance of positive program evaluations, several caveats remain. Negative results are less likely to be announced or published, accordingly biasing the ROI upward.

Uncertainty persists regarding the specific impact of the various program components. But as these programs take hold, further research and analysis will enable fine-tuning of program investments.

Meanwhile, the preponderance of data and the strength of the published research stand for a positive ROI for wellness programs.

Indeed, the corporation case for such programs is now well enough defined that some insurance agents offer discounted rates to companies that institute or subscribe to wellness programs.

Future questions will focus on how to best to combine robust and focused interventions, the intensity of elements, and how to calibrate the dose-response model to achieve a target ROI.

Here, businesss, workers, and researchers will need to collaborate to define mutual goals respecting both clinical and cost outcomes.

Sources –

1. In Business –  Madison. Madison, WI –  September 2004. p. 39.

2. Anderson DR, Whitmer RW, Goetzel RZ, Ozminkowski RJ, Wasserman J, Serxner S. Health Enhancement Research Organization Committee. American Journal of Wellness 2000; 15(1) –  45-52.

3. Manning J. Wellness movement gains ground among corporations, health insurers. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. August 19, 2004.

4. Chapman LS. Professional opinions on “best practices” in corporate wellness (WHP). the Art of Wellness Newsletter, July/August 2004 – 1-6.

5. Fronstin, P, and Werntz, R. EBRI Issue Brief No. 267, March 2004. Washington, DC –  Staff Member Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).

6. Powell C. Professionals urge corporations to promote employee wellness strategies. Akron Beacon Journal. October 25, 2004.

7. Goetzel RZ, Juday TR, Ozminkowski RJ. AWHP’s Worksite Health, Summer, 1999.

8. Goetzel, RZ. Absolute Advantage. Washington DC –  Wellness Councils of America. Vol 1(8); 2002.

9. Aldana SG. American Journal of Wellness 2001; 15(5) –  296-320.

10. Ozminkowski RJ, Dunn RL, Goetzel RZ, Cantor RI, Murnane J, Harrison M. American Journal of Wellness 1999; 14(1) –  31-43.

11. Ozminkowski RJ, Goetzel RZ, Smith MW, Cantor RI, Shaughnessy A, Harrison M. the impact of the Citibank, N.A. J Occup Environ Med. 2000; 42(5) –  502-511.

12. Serxner S, Gold D, Anderson D, Williams D. J Occup Environ Med. 2001; 43(1) –  25-29.

13. Riedel JE, Lynch W, Baase C, Hymel P, Peterson KW. American Journal of Wellness 2001; 15(3) –  167-191.

14. Edington MD, Karjalainen T, Hirschland D, Edington DW. AAOHN J. 2002 Jan; 50(1) –  26-31.

15. Aldana SG, Pronk NP. J Occup Environ Med. 2001 Jan; 43(1) –  36-46.

16. Pelletier KR. American Journal of Wellness. 2001; 16(2) –  107-16.

17. Edington DW. American Journal of Wellness 2001; 15(5) –  341-349.

18. Leatherman S, Berwick D, Iles D, Lewin LS, Davidoff F, Nolan T, Bisognano M. Health Affairs 2003; 22(2) –  17-30.

19. Erfurt JC, Holtyn K. J Occup Med 1991; 33(1) –  66-73.

20. Serxner S, Anderson DR, Gold D. American Journal of Wellness. 18(4) –  1-6, iii, 2004 Mar-Apr.

21. Serxner SA, Gold DB, Grossmeier JJ, Anderson DR.

Developing a Wellness Program.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 20-08-2010

As organizations today continue to compete in the global economy, cost containment strategies will be increasingly important. Controlling the rising cost of worker ill health is becoming a priority for corporate leaders.

The emerging corporate culture in the United States  is one which has an staff member population centered in health, safety and wellness.

Developing a corporate strategy for wellness and disability management makes good corporation sense. the following eight-step process ensures a strategic, integrated, needs-driven and results-oriented approach.

The following process works best in organizations with strong leadership and a long-term commitment to worker health.

1. Identify Your Program Champion

This person should be a leader in your organization and a strong advocate of health. Typically this is an individual who actively pursues his or her own personal quest for optimal health.

The program champion must have the resources and authority to drive the program forward. the program champion’s key role is to ensure the strategic plan for health is aligned with the corporation’s business objectives, strategic focus and organizational values.

For  instance when the organization promotes that “our strength is our people ” the wellness program must demonstrate how programs will nurture and protect that valuable resource.

2. Form Your Wellness Strategy Team

The Wellness Strategy Team should include decision makers and stakeholders from areas of the business that can influence health and the corporation’s bottom line.

These areas may include; finance, HR, training and development, health services, compensation and benefits, staff member assistance services (EAP), marketing and advertising, facilities, health and safety, rehabilitation, cafeteria or food services and the union. A team of six to eight representatives is advised.

The role of the Strategy Team is to create and implement the strategic plan, look for opportunities to promote health, ensure the program is integrated into key areas of the organization, streamline efforts, maximize business resources and program examination.

3. Complete an Organizational Health Audit

The purpose of an Organizational Health Audit is to evaluate your existing programs and services, physical environment and policies and procedures that support health.

It is also important to look at your organizational culture or “how things are done” around the corporation.

Members of the Strategy Team complete the Audit independently and then meet to discuss their investigation. During the investigation process, health issues and opportunities are discussed in preparation for the development of the strategic plan.

4. Analyze Your Corporation’s Cost Pressures

Cost pressures are identified by analyzing  a number of areas including; benefit costs, Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) claims, drug usage, type of paramedic claims, absenteeism data and employee assistance program utilization.

This process assists to target areas that could be positively impacted by a wellness program and to provide a baseline for investigating  change.

5. Conduct a Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal} or Worker Needs and Interest Survey

The next step is to determine your employee’s health risks, interests and readiness to change. A confidential health risk (assessment|appraisal} can accomplish many objectives.

It provides a baseline from which to measure personal lifestyle changes, provides employees with relevant health information, excites employees to take charge of their health and helps in program planning.

Most health risk (assessment|appraisal}s provide individual reports and a corporate report identifying high-risk areas in the business.

Many organizations prefer to administer personalized needs and interest survey to evaluate employee needs. the benefit of this approach is that the company is able to gather information on the employees’ perceived wellness needs and program interests.

This information may be incorporated into the strategic plan. Administering a recent survey also has the added benefit of fostering a sense of employee ownership to the program.

6. Create Your Strategic Plan for Wellness

The strategic plan should incorporate information collected from the Organizational Health Audit, your corporation’s cost pressures, and health risk (assessment|appraisal} data or worker survey results.

The strategic plan ought to include your program mission, three or four goals and several programs under each objective. the strategic plan provides a framework to encourage, support and evaluate “best health practices.”

It’s also important that the plan align itself with the vision, objectives and objectives of the organization.

The sample strategic plan that follows was created for blue jeans maker Levi Strauss and Co. (Canada) Inc. Levi Strauss and Co.’s mission statement and aspirations (how employees interact with each other in a business environment) guided the development of the plan.

Levi Strauss and Co.’s aspirations include the following statement –  Above all, we want satisfaction from accomplishments and friendships, balanced personal and specialist lives, and to have fun in our endeavors.

The wellness program plan included a number of components to ensure that it embraced this statement including the following –

1. A vision statement, which tied in with the corporation’s aspirations.

2. an incentive system to encourage and reward the accomplishment of healthful milestones.

3. A recognition system to applaud success.

4. Friendly competitions between Levi Strauss and Co. locations to ensure a fun environment.

5. Opportunities to participate in small group educational programs to foster team support.

6. Initiation of support groups for employees completing wellness programs (i.e. tobacco use control support group).

7. Programs dealing with work and family balance.

Other information that was analyzed and used to create the plan included –

1. Company demographics

2. Focus groups

3. Cultural audit

4. Top drug report

5. employee assistance program (EAP) utilization

6. Worker benefit services report

7. Health and dental claims

8. Operational performance summaries

9. Health risk (assessment|appraisal}s

7. Prepare a Business Case to Support Your Plan

Your corporation case for wellness provides the necessary details for approval at the  upper-level management level. the corporation case includes –

1. the Strategic Plan for Health

2. A proposed program budget

3. Marketing strategies

4. Program leadership options

5. an implementation plan

6. Evaluation methodology.

In presenting the strategic plan it’s important to highlight how the plan aligns itself with the strategic direction of the organization.

The program budget should include educational resources, advertising and marketing costs, rewards and incentives, leadership costs and supplies.

Advertising and Marketing strategies should address how the program will be promoted and rolled out to various groups within the organization i.e. decentralized locations, high risk workers, older workers.

Program leadership should address how volunteers will be used, internal resources  and whether advisors have been proposed. All play an equally important role in the implementation of your wellness program.

The program implementation plan should incorporate the following kinds of programs that help develop awareness of positive health practices, assist employees in making lifestyle changes and initiatives, which support long-term change.

Awareness programs create an awareness of the importance of healthful lifestyle practices and motivate staff members to take the next step. Examples of awareness programs include posting educational posters, newsletter articles and brown bagger seminars.

Lifestyle change programs are more extensive and longer in duration. They’re designed to assist workers in changing behavior. Examples of lifestyle change programs are nutrition education programs, stress management programs, back care classes and smoking control programs.

A supportive corporate environment encompasses everything from corporate policies and procedures, the physical environment and creating a corporate culture that supports good health practices. Follow-up sessions and support groups for staff members who have completed 6-10 week wellness programs also provide a supportive environment for long-term change.

Evaluating the effectiveness of wellness is ongoing. A formal evaluation ought to be conducted annually and may include; re-administering steps three to five, program participation statistics and a year end survey to revisit “soft” issues such as morale, program satisfaction and future program direction.

8. Solicit Input and Communicate Your Plan

Worker input is vital to the long-term success of your program. an Worker Advisory Committee must be formed to roll out the plan. Another key responsibility of this team is to solicit feedback from all levels of the organization to ensure buy-in.

Front line Manager’s Information Sessions and focus groups are also important. This group needs to buy-in to the notion that they play a key role in supporting positive health practices.

Regular meetings are recommended with front line managers to receive ongoing input, address issues and orient new managers.


The World Health Corporation’s definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of illness and infirmity.”

In order for us to create healthy workplaces, wellness programs must have a program champion, have staff member ownership, be management supported, results driven and strategically aligned with the overall company goals of the organization.

Wellness program that embrace these qualities will have a positive impact on an corporation’s bottom line. Canadian research points to many case studies where onsite programs have resulted in decreased absenteeism, lower claims and increased productivity.

Organizations who have embraced wellness as part of “how they do business” have one thing in common. They demonstrate a commitment to their most valuable resource – their individuals .

They understand the increased pressures associated with downsized organizations, a quickly changing workplace, an aging work force and the challenge of balancing work and family obligations. and they share a common belief that healthful staff members are happier, absent less and more productive.

References –

Design of Wellness Programs by Michael P. O’Donnell. 1995. Published by the American Journal of Wellness.

Pro Fit-ability by Veronica Marsden. Group Healthcare Management. May 1997.

Meeting Expectations by Laura Mensch. Worker Health and Productivity. August 1999

7 Steps to Wellness by Daphne Woolf and Veronica Marsden. Group Health Care Management. February 1996.

Published in the Journal of Wellness for Northern Ireland, Issue 9, March 2000

Wellness Program Ideas.


Posted by Employer Wellness | Posted in Employer Wellness | Posted on 19-08-2010

Want some wellness program ideas and wellness policy ideas to get you started? Or maybe you want to jump start or improve upon your current wellness program?

The list below provides “best practices’ that can help meet any wellness program budget! the Wellness Program ideas are divided into topic areas.

General Wellness Progam Ideas

• Policy – Conduct an Employee Needs and Interest Survey

• Policy – Develop a management/employee Wellness Committee

• Policy – Choose health plans that cover costs for weight management and use of tobacco cessation

• Policy – Waive co-pay or reimburse for preventive health care visits

• Program – Display  pamphlets on a selection of wellness topics for staff members to take

• Program – Establish a wellness resource center or library with videos, books, magazines, DVD’s on a selection of topics of interest to employees

• Program – Identify employees who are mentors or champions for healthy activities and ask them to present or to list as a contact for other employees

• Program – Plan and promote periodic or regular educational sessions.

• Program – Plan monthly educational sessions on the national health observance topic

• Program – Post a Wellness Bulletin Board and update it monthly

• Program – Promote messages from national health observances during the month

• Program – Publish and/or post healthful tips in newsletters, paycheck stuffers, bulletin boards, etc.

• Program – Sponsor a benefits fair

• Program – Sponsor business fitness and healthy consuming challenges

• Program – Sponsor business wellness fairs or other onsite events

Nutrition Programs

• Policy – Offer free, healthful snacks for workers (fruit, nuts, popcorn)

• Policy – Provide healthful meal options in cafeterias and at corporation events

• Policy – Give information to employees about the nutritional content of food served in the cafeteria

• Policy – Begin a fresh fruit “snack basket” in the breakroom or cafeteria

• Policy – Stock vending machines with healthier choices

• Policy – Subsidize healthy foods in the cafeteria or vending machines (10? apples might  be more appealing than $1.00 candy bars)

• Program – Coordinate a weekly or monthly healthy lunch club

• Program – Have  flyers available on a variety of healthy consuming topics

• Program – Include nutrition articles in business newsletters

• Program – Schedule a healthful food tasting contest Free

• Program – Schedule educational sessions at lunch-time on a selection of nutrition topics of interest

• Program – Sponsor an employee healthy food cookbook. Either sell the cookbook and use profits for programs, or purchase a cookbook for all employees

Weight Loss Programs / Weight Management Programs

• Policy – Consider flexible work schedules so that employees can participate in weight-loss programs

• Policy – Subsidize registration costs for weight-management programs

• Program – Form a support group to help staff members who are trying to lose weight

• Program – Locate registered dieticians near your worksite as a resource for employees who want information on healthful eating, meal planning or weight control

• Program – Offer individual counseling for staff members trying to lose weight

• Program – Offer on-site fitness and weight-management programs through your local hospital, Weight Watchers, TOPS or local, registered dietician

• Program – Schedule an educational session on diet myths and healthy eating

Exercise Programs

• Policy – Allow flexible work schedules to encourage exercise

• Policy – Develop a fitness space with aerobic equipment, and weights

• Policy – Develop accessible walking paths, trails, and/or bike routes

• Policy – Be certain to encourage workers to walk more by parking farther away from the entrance

• Policy – Establish a fitness center with aerobic equipment, weights, group fitness classes, fitness professionals

• Policy – Hold walking meetings

• Policy – Make the stairwells more appealing (carpet, fresh paint, artwork, posters)

• Policy – Offer reduced health club membership fees to all workers

• Policy – Provide facilities for workers to secure bicycles

• Policy – Schedule 5 – 10 minute stretch breaks during the day

• Policy – Subsidize gym membership for workers who participate a minimal number of days per week (ex., 3 days per week)

• Policy – Support lunchtime walking/running clubs or company sports team

• Program – Make sure to encourage stairwell use and incentives

• Program – Install a basketball hoop outside

• Program – Promote and support community walks or fitness events

• Program – Promote walking during breaks and other off-time periods

• Program – Provide periodic fitness incentive programs to encourage exercise

• Program – Schedule educational sessions on fitness activities

Smoking Cessation Programs / Tobacco Cessation Programs

• Policy – Create a tobacco-free grounds

• Policy – Develop a tobacco-free workplace

• Policy – Make sure to encourage the use of 1-800-QUIT-NOW, North Carolina’s free Tobacco Use Quitline. Or check

• Policy – Reimburse for tobacco replacement products

• Policy – Subsidize the cost of tobacco use cessation workshops

• Program – Give  brochures and information on health effects from use of tobacco and smoking cessation

• Program – Schedule awareness sessions to motivate staff members to try to quit tobacco use

• Program – Schedule on-site smoking cessation workshops

Employee Biometric Testing

• Policy – Discount health insurance premiums or reduce co-payments for staff members who participate in screenings and who participate in managing their risk factors

• Policy – Install blood pressure (BP) monitoring equipment

• Program – Offer flu shots for workers and family members

• Program – Offer Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal}s to all staff members, including counseling and follow-up

• Program – Offer periodic blood pressure (BP) screenings and follow-up

• Program – Offer periodic screenings for cholesterol, blood sugar, body composition, etc.

Stress Management Programs / Make certain to work Life Balance Programs

• Program – Allow flexible schedules for family/work life balance

• Program – Offer and promote an worker assistance program

• Program – Provide information on substance abuse prevention

• Program – Give  handouts and information on stress management and mental health

• Program – Provide  brochures and information on work life balance, like financial planning, childcare, parenting, elder care, etc.

• Program – Give supervisor and manager training on communication, relationship building, organizational stressors, etc.

• Program – Review business policies and work schedules to identify organizational stressors

• Program – Review the staff member assistance program to ensure it’s meeting the needs of the employees and company

• Program – Schedule educational sessions on stress management and work life balance

• Program – Schedule seminars on relaxation, stress management, and work life balance topics