Where to Begin with Employee Health Promotion Programs

Where to Begin with Employee Health Promotion Programs

Ten Steps Toward Strategic Employee Health Promotion Programs

The Worksite Health Promotion Plan management world is evolving rapidly. Each month, there are new research findings that support the premise that Employee Health Promotion Programs and disease management have a long-term impact on health care costs. Many large companies that started Employee Health Promotion Programs three to five years ago are showing savings in health, disability, and workers compensation costs. Small to mid-size companies are watching all this and wondering where to start with wellness.

Getting upper management support and budget approval is one of the challenges at the beginning of a Employee Health Promotion Program. This is the case because Employee Health Promotion Programs can be expensive, averaging $150-300 per staff member per year in large companies. Most of the savings are not realized for a number of years. This long-term investing is hard for companies on the move.

The key to success for Employee Health Promotion Programs is to take a strategic approach. Here are ten steps to consider when starting a Employee Health Promotion Program.

1. Begin with upper management. Without upper management support, a health promotion strategy can fall flat. Begin with the health of your executive team and discover your wellness champions at the top of the business.
2. Analyze the problem. Look at your health care claims and assess the trends. Which conditions are driving your medical, disability, and workers’ compensation claims and which are modifiable? What’s worked and what hasn’t thus far? What is the long-term impact of doing nothing?
3. Hold an initial wellness meeting. Invite your primary stakeholders both inside and outside the business. Ask your broker to facilitate the meeting and invite primary health vendors including health, disability, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), fitness, and occupational nursing. Review claims and utilization data and identify primary areas of concern. Look at current offerings and see how they can be tailored to the needs of the population.
4. Look at both healthy and unhealthy employees. Since 85% of claims are usually attributed to 15% of claimants, it is essential to reach those with the most costly conditions while also reaching staff members who are at risk for developing preventable diseases in the future. Voluntary Employee Health Promotion Programs such as lunch and learns wellness seminars miss many of the staff members who need them most. Look at programs that are population-wide or target intact workgroups. Wellness incentives help but do not motivate everyone.
5. Set short-term goals for the Employee Health Promotion Programs. Set some realistic short-term goals based on your primary areas of concern. Are there any plan design changes that could have an immediate impact on spending? Are there some programmatic actions that could have immediate results?
6. Find out what employees are thinking. Hold some focus groups to determine where staff members are with wellness. What’s working? What isn’t? How much interest do staff members have in the Employee Health Promotion Programs? What obstacles and barriers are employees experiencing when they try to change behavior?
7. Make sure you have a high-impact Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Your first wellness dollars should go into upgrading your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). A highly utilized Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide a foundation for all of your future wellness programs. A good Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a trusted link to the hearts and minds of employees. At no additional cost, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide needed follow-up coaching and individual attention for employees who are working on modifiable health behaviors or involved in disease management programs. Nutritionists, fitness, pregnancy, and stress management specialists are all part of a high-value Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
8. Set three to five year goals for health care savings and measure them. Get help from your broker and insurance carrier help you on long-term goals for your health, disability, and workers compensation plans. Create program metrics that will help you to measure ROI. Go beyond participation rates, completion rates and program satisfaction. Measure changes in readiness, changes in behavior, and changes in risk factors. Create rigorous methods to measure health care savings over the long term.
9. Set goals for organizational health. Look at the more intangible benefits of a Employee Health Promotion Program and quantify them whenever possible. Include staff member turnover rates, cost of new hires, staff member morale, benefit satisfaction data, and employer of choice issues in setting goals. Create ways to measure success in these areas.
10. Add specifics to your short and long-term plan. Include a Worksite Health Promotion Plan strategy, a communication strategy, and a Worksite Health Promotion Plan incentive strategy that will fit with your company culture. Focus on integration of related components along a health continuum with communications that are focused, simple, and human. Create a budget that includes primary components such as consumer education, health promotion, Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), and regular biometric screens.