Starting a Wellness Incentive Program Could Lower Healthcare Costs!

Written by on February 16, 2012

This week on the LinkedIn Group Linked:HR (#1 Human Resources Group) there was a lengthy discussion regarding lowing company healthcare costs. HR managers are discussing ways to lower their company healthcare costs while engaging employees. Health care is a wider topic that is being discussed across many mediums including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Wellness is being put back on the table as a result of health care reform and attempts to reduce health care costs,” (SHRM, 2011, p. 4)

I can’t resist the opportunity to plug the success of a wellness incentive program! I have been very impressed recently with my wellness program clients. They always come up with new and interesting ways to encourage their employees to be healthier individuals.

I don’t think all wellness incentive programs start off the same. Some come to fruition to give employees an opportunity to come together and work for a mutual goal like weight loss. Others come about to reduce health care costs at the source, the employees. Every good program starts with an idea. I see companies encouraging employees to bring a “brown bag” lunch of healthy items and participate in a group meeting regarding health and wellness. Other companies offer gym memberships at no or reduced cost. The ideas are there, but sometimes the incentives are not.

Companies that have gyms at their facilities reward employees with points for amount of time spent at the gym. Routine check-ups like mammograms and colposcopies are rewarded yearly for employees who take care of their preventative care. Other companies have had recipe forums on their incentive websites where employees can share healthy recipes they try. An important component of a wellness program is the community it creates. When a person is struggling with health issues, or simply making an effort to stay health, it helps to know your fellow co-workers are working for the same goal: Health!

One of the most talked about topics this week was reducing employee obesity. I also have companies that give weight loss challenges similar to “The Biggest Looser” with brand-name merchandise prizes. The key to this equation is the incentive. Sometimes personal weight loss is not enough, but maybe an iPod would be! Anything is possible with these incentive programs. I think many of my own clients may not even know the benefit in health care cost reduction from a wellness program.

My favorite things about these programs are how excited the participants get to earn points and select prizes. They know they are making their health a top priority and they are happy their employer has taken an interest in their longevity.

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