10 Ways to Win with Employee Wellness Programs

How One Employee Lost 70 Pounds & Turned Her Life Around

Why Employee Wellness?

employee wellnessLifestyle choices, family issues and financial worries impact employee productivity and absenteeism. At MedCost, our nurses see it every day working with health plan members.

A well-designed employee wellness program can help address many of these issues. And it doesn’t have to be big and complicated. It simply has to work for your employees.

At MedCost, we had these same challenges within our own workplace. Part of what we do is advise clients on programs that help improve the health of their employees. We determined first to work with our own staff for greater improvements in each employee’s health.

Patrenia’s Story

The truth about her health never got through to Patrenia Johnson until a year ago. She had always struggled with her weight; and was diagnosed with type II diabetes at the age of 24. But denial was a comfortable way to continue her eating habits and to manage every emotion she felt.

A year ago, Patrenia met with her endocrinologist. After examining her history of A1C numbers, which were once again out of control, the doctor looked intently at Patrenia.

“Do you want to live, or die?” the doctor said.

Patrenia finally faced the truth – she might die from diabetes.

Just like her dad. Just like her close friend.

Making Wellness a Priority

employee wellnessWe wanted our employees and those of our clients to have practical tools to support real changes in their lives. We wanted to keep low-risk members from developing more serious conditions.

Hiring a corporate wellness manager allowed us to benefit our own staff and provide expert wellness consultations for our clients.

New wellness features implemented for MedCost employees began to have an immediate impact. During breaks and at lunch, conversations could be heard about calories, healthy foods, or how many steps had been logged that day.

More employees purchased standing desks and took the stairs. People began to think about their lifestyle choices and how to implement healthier habits.

We recruited new members from more departments for the wellness committee, led by our employee wellness manager.

The company also launched a comprehensive program for clients called Healthy & Wholewith fresh ideas to balance care for employees with a company’s financial health. Watch the video here.

Employee Wellness: 10 Ways to Win

Here are 10 ways we’re encouraging employee wellness:

  1. Offered a $500 incentive for completing employee wellness requirements—even if not on the company health plan.
  2. Ongoing exercise classes, subsidized by MedCost
  3. employee wellnessFree wearable device with fitness app that tracks activity, nutrition, sleep, mood and hydration
  4. Lifestyle coaching resources for weight loss, tobacco cessation, financial health and dealing with stress
  5. Company softball and kickball teams to compete in adult recreational leagues
  6. An online platform, myStrength, for stress management and emotional health
  7. A “Wellness Moment” at regular middle management meetings and company Town Halls
  8. Monthly Lunch-n-Learns on health topics
  9. Walk with Me Wednesdays
  10. Fresh Fruit Fridays in break rooms

Patrenia’s Success

Patrenia enrolled in the Personal Care Management program as a diabetic. Her nurse health coach regularly contacted Patrenia, offering resources, suggestions and ongoing support.

She joined company exercise classes and the coed softball team. Patrenia began to incorporate these actions into her daily life:

  • Reducing food portions
  • Giving up carbonated soft drinks
  • Not depriving herself of certain foods, but limiting them
  • Walking with coworkers during breaks
  • Taking onsite exercise classes
  • Welcoming accountability from fellow employees for her eating habits
employee wellness

Patrenia before losing 70 lbs.

employee wellness

Patrenia one year later

Change wasn’t easy.

So far, she has dropped 10 dress sizes, losing almost 70 pounds. She says it’s still a daily struggle, but the results are worth it.

“I’m not as tired anymore. The doctors say that my kidneys look good. My eyes look good. I want to keep hearing that from my doctors.

“And most of all—I want to be here for my family.”

Employee Wellness—Winning for a Lifetime

Employers care about more than a profit-and-loss column. They provide health care benefits because they care about their employees. For the 75% of employees and families who are healthier, wellness programs can help prevent conditions from escalating.

Lifestyle changes—even small ones—create measurable outcomes of better health, productivity and an employer’s bottom line.MedCost

Watch this informative video about our new comprehensive program, Healthy & Whole.

“Do you want to live, or die?” the doctor said.

How to Help Employees Become HEALTHY & WHOLE (Video)

Ready to Balance the Care of Your Employees
with the Financial Health of Your Company?
HEALTHY & WHOLE

WATCH VIDEO NOW

  • Annual health care costs in America are $3.2 trillion.
  • Employees average 5.3 unplanned sick days per year.
  • That productivity lost is more than 1 and 1/2 hours of an 8-hour day.

When disease management and wellness programs combine, employers average $30 per member per month in decreased health care costs.

HEALTHY & WHOLE

That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive program called HEALTHY & WHOLE.

HEALTHY & WHOLE encompasses physical, emotional, financial and social health – and
greater job satisfaction for employees.

The goal is to help employers balance the care of employees with the financial health of your
company.

HEALTHY & WHOLE Includes Disease Management

Our nurse health coaches provide hands-on support, helping members reduce blood
pressure, glucose levels and lose weight.

And for complex conditions, case managers provide expert help for families in very difficult
situations.

Over 73% of businesses offer corporate wellness to attract and retain talent, and strengthen
company culture. Another advantage is to encourage enrollment in consumer-directed health
plans, a growing trend.

HEALTHY & WHOLE Supports Lifestyle Changes

HEALTHY & WHOLE addresses not only members with chronic diseases, but the 75% who
need support with lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes – even small ones – create measurable outcomes of better health, productivity and bottom line.

The Results of Corporate Wellness Programs

HEALTHY & WHOLE

http://www.nahueducationfoundation.org/materials/WellnessBrochure.pdf

Implementing corporate wellness programs dropped claims costs -28%, doctor visits -17% and hospital admissions -63%.

This same study showed disability costs down -34% and injury incidence down -25%.

An employer we worked with said that he is passionate about having happy employees. If they
are happy, they will be productive and engaged.

A Program That Benefits Employees and Companies

Lifestyle coaching. Financial education. Fitness. Nurse health coaching. Long-term medical
conditions. HEALTHY & WHOLE serves everyone’s needs, including your company’s.

We want to see everyone HEALTHY & WHOLE. That’s why it’s important to us to balance the care of your employees with the financial health of your company.MedCost

HEALTHY & WHOLE

PLAY VIDEO

(This post is a transcript from the video, “MedCost HEALTHY & WHOLE.”)

For more information on wellness consultations for employers, email Kati Davis.

 

Four Corporate Ideas for Employee Wellness Programs

Stories of Success

If you’re one of the 80% of employers who have offered employee wellness programs and information,[i] you may be searching to see what is working at other companies. Developing a culture of wellness can decrease sick leave absenteeism by an average 28%, and workers’ compensation and disability costs by an average 30%.[ii]

employee wellness programs

How can you increase your employees’ job satisfaction and overall health, while saving hard-earned health care dollars? Here are four power ideas for more successful employee wellness programs

1. Offer Choices.

One size does not fit all in employee wellness programs,” said Crystal Spicer, MedCost Human Resources Manager. As a company offering financial and health solutions for employer benefit programs, clients were asking what wellness outreach MedCost was doing for their own employees.

The MedCost HR team realized that what worked for one employee didn’t necessarily fit another. So the company’s wellness committee designed a point-based program with multiple ways to boost health and earn financial incentives.

The annual program, kicked off in 2016, measured points earned for employee wellness activities on a quarterly and a yearly basis. This chart shows multiple ways that MedCost employees could earn points for the financial incentives at year’s end:

employee wellness programs

“We got people’s attention, which is what we were striving for,” said Crystal. One group of women came to work an hour early to walk together – even climbing stairs.

A Weight Watchers group cosponsored by the company attracted 20 people. Sherry lost 56 pounds. Glenn lost 36. Trish, motivated on her own, lost 40. And their new habits of exercising and eating helped them keep it off.

MedCost offered $100 drawings quarterly for those who met point goals. At the end of 2016, those who accrued the 2,400 points will receive a $500 contribution into their personal Health Savings Account.[iii] Employees enrolled in a Preferred Provider Organization plan could earn a gift card for $250.

Fitness classes offered after work onsite were another way to add points. The company shared costs with employees who signed up for the six-week classes. From the beginning, classes were well-attended.

Financial incentives are effective for successful employee wellness programs. Four out of five employers use financial incentives to promote wellness.[iv]

“Getting buy-in is key,” said Crystal. “Earning these financial incentives are obtainable because there are a whole variety of ways to get there.

2. Incorporate Employee Suggestions

employee wellness programs

Figure 1. Several MedCost employees at the 2016 Heart Walk

Our annual support of the Triad American Heart Association’s walk hit new levels this year – and not just financially. Jenny implemented a leadership contest to raise the most employee contributions, with the winner earning the right to wear this Southern Lady hat, red beads and tutu (See Figure 1).

Brad (in the lovely hat and tutu) definitely stood out in the crowd of 7,500 walkers through downtown Winston-Salem.

But even better were the 125 employees, family members and friends who walked between one to four miles on October 29th. Dogs, babies in strollers, music and laughter made this emphasis on healthy hearts a lot of fun.

Another employee suggestion resulted in a weekly “Walk with Me Wednesday” event, beginning in 2015. MedCost is located in a business park with sidewalks, gazebos and ponds. An average six to eight employees walk 15 minutes together at noon, enjoying fresh air, camaraderie and exercise in a beautifully landscaped setting.

employee wellness programs

Figure 2. MedCost on Kimel Park Drive, Winston-Salem, NC

One key benefit of this weekly walk is better connectivity among the employees who walk together. In many businesses, department knowledge is often siloed from other departments because of different functions. And employees don’t get to know each other.

“The walks really do benefit the mind as well as the body,” said Karen, a 16-year employee at MedCost. “Walking with others just motivates me to get out and walk.”

 

3. Take a Long-Term Approach to Your Return on Investment (ROI)

“Looking purely at hard costs, healthcare spending can be one of the largest single expenses for a business, next to payroll,” said Dan Birach, president of HEALTHWORKS division at Carolinas HealthCare System. [v]

“Statistics show that for every dollar an employer invested in areas such as wellness programming and disease management, they enjoyed an ROI of anywhere from $1.50 to $3.80. Healthy employees are more productive and miss fewer days.”

The Society for Human Resource Management reported that 80% of employers offered preventive wellness services and info in 2015.[vi]

Employee wellness programs are having an impact on reduced dollars spent on health benefits. When corporate wellness programs were implemented:

  • Claims costs reduced 28%
  • Doctor visits reduced 17%
  • Hospital admissions reduced 63%
  • Disability costs were down 34%
  • Incidence of injury reduced 25%[vii]

“A wellness program can make just a small difference at first,” said Crystal. “It has to build gradually.”

Employers offering wellness programs are looking for the same key ingredient for their employees – motivation.

4. Motivate Your Employees for Better Quality of Life

employee wellness programs

Figure 3. Claudia Johnson before losing weight

Claudia works with providers (hospital systems, medical offices and other professionals) at MedCost. When doctors diagnosed medical issues exacerbated by her obesity, she took a hard look at her lifestyle. And wanted to change.

“I am involved in Christian ministries in my personal life,” Claudia said. “I wanted to be in better health. My family and friends supported me to make some new choices.”

MedCost wellness choices inspired Claudia to do things differently. In January of 2016, she braved the cold temperatures to begin walking every morning at 7:30 a.m. with several other employees. She climbed stairs at lunch. She focused on her health.

“I’ve lost 30 pounds,” Claudia said. “I love the fact that I have gone from a size 22 to a size 18. My grandchildren are ten and six. I have to get rid of some more of this weight to keep up with them.”

employee wellness programs

Figure 4. Claudia Johnson after losing 30 pounds

Summary

Inspire your employees. Fit your wellness program to your unique business style and culture. One size won’t fit all, so try different ideas to see what resonates with your employees.

Above all, pour on the encouragement. Your employees are spending a large chunk of their time working for you. Your support may not only boost your bottom line, but improve your employees’ health in a life-changing way.

Your company will produce not only satisfied customers, but loyal, healthier employees.MedCost

 

 

[i] “Eight Things You Need to Know about Employee Wellness Programs,” Alan Kohll, Forbes, April 21, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2016/04/21/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-employee-wellness-programs/2/#4097a3e13e2d

[ii] “Be Stronger, Live Better,” National Association of Health Underwriters Education Foundation, http://www.nahueducationfoundation.org/materials/WellnessBrochure.pdf

[iii] For those enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan with the company.

[iv] Incentives for Workplace Wellness Programs,” RAND Corporation, http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9842.html

[v]  “Five Things to Consider When Planning Your Wellness Program,” Dan Birach, HEALTHWORKS Division, Carolinas HealthCare System,  http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/medical-services/prevention-wellness/employer-solutions/healthworks/info-hub

[vi] Kohll, ibid.

[vii] National Association of Health Underwriters Education Foundation, ibid.