Corporate Wellness Is a Win-Win Proposition

  • Healthy employees:
  • Take off less sick time
  • Incur less expense in staff replacement
  • Incur less drain on health insurance paid by corporations
  • Promote a happier work environment

Implementation of corporate wellness programs is nothing new.  Less than 10% of employers with 200 workers or more fail to institute health plans in the workplace, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Josh Klapow, of ChipRewards, an Alabama firm that develops health incentive programs states:

“All of our existing interventions are now transforming into digital options.” The Drive to Wellness”

The Affordable Care Act promotes wellness programs by allowing companies to provide greater financial incentives for participation in workplace wellness initiatives, i.e. as much as 30% of insurance coverage costs.

Just as incentives are given to employees, employers also penalize patients for unhealthy lifestyle choices, leading to obesity, poor exercise routines, along with smoking and alcohol consumption. Yet, workers are now required to show some progress toward their health goals.

Twenty percent of employers utilize penalties and rewards to entice their employees to reach goals like blood pressure, weight control  and cholesterol management acccording to a recent survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

In addition, 42% of companies say they currently reward or penalize employees based on tobacco use, a number that is expected to climb to 58% by 2015.

Diet and Exercise Apps

Health applications and tracking activity through wearable devices is on the rise.

Dannielle Sherrets of  the National Business Group on Health’s Institute on Innovation in Workforce Well-being points out:

“What we found from our wellness scorecard data is that participation in physical activity programs is much higher than other wellness programs. We can’t say for sure, but we attribute a lot of that to the use of technology.”  “Employers are starting to look for strategies to help encourage employees to get up and move throughout the day. Even a minute every couple of hours is beneficial.”

In a report titled “The Consumer Health Mindset,” from  the National Business Group on Health and AON Hewitt,   93% of consumers participating in a nutrition and healthy eating program say they or their family were helped. Eighty-five percent said fitness activity was useful, and 83% said they benefited from stress management programs.

Employers also offer more clinically based programs to help employees with chronic illnesses better manage their ongoing care. However, Newell said, “They are pretty basic. That class of devices to manage chronic illness is where [activity] device trackers were five years ago.”

Sifting Through the Available Programs- The Dilemma of Choosing The Right One

There are now more than  40,000 health and wellness apps currently available through IOS and Android making a choice of which ones that  employers would be best served with for employee wellness is difficult.

“The problem, as with all new technology, is that so much is being presented to employers — everything from health challenges to social media to game-based interventions to digital health coaching, to wearables and apps. What you have are all these digital means of delivering variations of sometimes the same thing,” Klapow said. “This is the biggest concern I see with employers.”

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