The Need for Wellness

Research data validates the need for individuals to take better care of their health. Implementing a wellness program can help employees understand the importance of making lifestyle changes and can encourage behavior modification. Other advantages of an effective wellness program include increased productivity and morale, lower utilization of health benefits, reduced absenteeism and improved employee retention. Wellness programs require employer and employee commitment as well as data management expertise.

Elements of a successful wellness program may include:

  • Strategic consultation
  • Health risk appraisals and assessments
  • Early detection initiatives
  • Targeting high-risk populations
  • On-site screenings prevention
  • Web portal, health content & lifestyle programs
  • Telephonic nurse line
  • Stress management
  • Lifestyle improvement
  • Online health coaching
  • Education and support programs
  • Disease management
  • Clinical event-driven activities
  • Quality improvement initiatives
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Data mining and predictive modeling
  • Alternative therapies

While companies certainly care about the well-being of their employees, according to The Institute for Health Care Consumerism, decision-makers admit that a primary reason their company maintains a wellness program is to help curb health care costs, and 59 percent of companies agree that wellness programs can help reduce these costs.

Despite the benefits of a wellness program, nearly a quarter (22 percent) of companies do not offer them to their workforce due to the difficulty in quantifying the return-on-investment (ROI). However, a comprehensive analysis of 42 published studies of work site health promotion programs showed that companies that implemented an effective wellness program realized significant cost reductions and financial gains, including:

· An average of 28 percent reduction in sick days
· An average of 26 percent reduction in health costs
· An average of 30 percent reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management claims
· An average $5.93 to $1 savings-to-cost ratio.

The 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report found similar results. Nearly all (92 percent) of the companies with a wellness program in place agreed that these programs are effective, and 47 percent reported the programs are very or extremely effective. In addition, 44 percent of employers agree they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program, and six in 10 (61 percent) agree they have a healthier workforce as a result of having a wellness program in place.



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