What do you think when you hear “Wellness Program”? Well, I hope you think, “Healthy and happy employees”. Not many business owners think about wellness programs and how it can play a role in the success of their company. I personally think implementing a wellness program is a no-brainer and every company, no matter the size, demographic, location or what service or product the company provide, should have one. Healthy People- Better Business It is common knowledge that healthier people tend to work harder, are happier, less stressed and are more efficient. While unhealthy people tend to feel more sluggish, stressed and less happy. The American Association of Occupational Health Nurse Inc. (AAOHN) commissioned a research study which surveys 500 workers nationwide about their perceptions of wellness programs. More than three-quarters of participants indicated wellness programs provide a good way to improve their overall health, and nearly 60% consider these offerings an incentive to remain at their current business. Worker retention and turnover impact the bottom line, so building wellness programs into the work site culture can be a valuable way to help retain talented staff members and enhance personal health and workplace productivity. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, every $1 invested in employee wellness programs yield roughly $4 in savings through reduced sick days, higher productivity and decreased overall health costs. Evidence shows that workplace health programs have the potential to promote healthy behaviors; improve employee’s health knowledge and skills; help employees receive necessary health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care; and reduce workplace exposure to substance and hazards that can cause disease and injury. Implementing the Wellness Program So how do you implement in wellness program that is efficient, smart, scalable and goal-oriented? You start by determining the needs of the employer and employees. First ask a simple question: What do employees need, and how do those needs fit with my goals as the employer. Employees appear to have their own agenda when it comes to their health. 85% of surveyed respondents cite stress management as a priority for corporate wellness. Employers want productive employees and manageable insurance rates. It is essential to understand the mindset, challenges, and your audience first before laying out a framework for a program. A simple health assessment followed by biometric screens is a good way to assess problem areas. Analyze your data and determine overlapping goals that fit into your existing culture. What will motivate your employees, fitness classes, wellness workshops, and/or competitions? Create a plan and take advantage or available resources. Some health insurance providers provide already designed programs. For example, Humana has Humana Fit, an online program that assigns points to different activities with rewards for meeting certain levels. Printed health and wellness material such as wellness posters, newsletters or wellness handouts can me incorporated into the program. Create a communication plan that lays out the program’s framework and different methods and times to communicate the information to employees. A culture of wellness doesn’t happen overnight. Reinforcement is a valuable key to maintaining participation and enthusiasm. Put an incentive plan in place. As the employer, your rewards may be lower health insurance costs, more productive employees and reduced sick days. For employees, rewarding them for getting healthy and achieving results provides the type of encouragement needed to implement the kind of change this type of program needs to be successful. The Partnership for Prevention (www.prevent.org) has outlined three components of proven promotion practiced for workplaces, and there are cost-effective, creative ways to implement all of them. For example: tobacco use. According to the CDC, men who smoke incur about $16,000 more in lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work four days more per year than men who do not smoke, women show comparable statistics. Some insurance providers offer smoking cessation benefits that cover at least four counseling sessions as well as prescription and over-the-counter nicotine replacement medication with no co-pay. Ask your broker to keep these guidelines in mind when you are purchasing insurance. One employer gave his employee a $2,500 bonus incentive for giving up tobacco, and he skipped the paperwork. So, what is the result of effective wellness programs? Workers become smarter consumers of healthcare who feel empowered to take charge of their personal health. A healthier worker makes for a healthier bottom line. Recently at ADKF we incorporated a wellness effort following tax season. Utilizing some of the suggestions mentioned above, seventeen people from our office participated and lost on average 3% of their body weight in a few short months. More than that it helped build camaraderie within the office and incentivized a healthier lifestyle. Each place of business is different, but we at ADKF encourage you to look into the implementation of a wellness program for your business.