Posted March 15, 2016
For over 20 years, employers have provided a variety of wellness programs encouraging employees to follow healthier lifestyles. Employees often are excited about the opportunities to engage in health and fitness programs. However, others may be concerned about the privacy of personal information and feel pressure to participate. Review six tips on how employers can create a healthier and happier workforce:
1. Promote wellbeing – Instead of addressing specific health issues, Gallup encourages employers to focus on overall wellbeing. Offer a mix of programs to assist with personal and family needs, such as managing finances, developing relationships, enjoying work, adopting healthy lifestyles, and supporting community involvement.
2. Publicize programs – According to Forbes, communications expert Jennifer Benz encourages employers to actively promote programs to employees. Her research shows that 60 percent of workers with access to health programs feel inspired by their employer’s commitment. In comparison, employees without such programs are four times less likely to be inspired to make healthy choices.
3. Motivate with money – Over 50 percent of large employers with wellness programs offer financial incentives to encourage employee involvement, according to U.S. News and World Report. At least 23 percent report linking rewards and incentive programs to health outcomes. Examples include cash, gift cards, reduced health insurance premiums and contributions to health care savings accounts.
4. Do not pressure – Employers should encourage employees to voluntarily participate in wellness programs vs. putting undue pressure on workers that could lead to discrimination. A survey by the National Business Group on Health found that fewer employers are penalizing employees for not participating in wellness programs.
5. Be confidential – It’s critical for employers to keep employees’ health information private. Many employers are asking insurance carriers to collect and maintain data files offsite to avoid the accidental release of information. Before posting names of employees, or sharing success stories, workers should give permission in writing.
6. Success – Before implementing programs, employers should identify goals for measuring success in each area of employee wellbeing. For example, if employee engagement is important, how will this be determined? Track improvements in attitudes, performance and retention, and share composite results with management and employees.