How to Cut Health Care Costs and Make Wellness Work
Posted Feb 01 2012 12:00am
Looking to cut healthcare costs at your organization? Who isn’t?
With obesity rates high and chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes on the rise, it takes more than just some pamphlets in the break room to improve employees’ wellbeing and see a decrease in related health costs. A recent study sponsored by Wellsteps illustrates the role that various factors play in the behavior change process among individuals.
The data suggests that "awareness and education" are only about 5% effective at instigating a change in lifestyle habits while "policy and environment" typically result in a 40% rate of success in rallying workers to health. The other factors of behavior change, according to the previously mentioned study, include "motivation" (30% successful) and "skills and tools" (25% successful). This data is invaluable when it comes to designing and implementing wellness programs because it helps companies determine how to budget efficiently.
So policy and environment are key. It is important for companies to reward behavior itself, and not merely required healthy activities. If using a wellness portal or reading educational materials is incentivized, employees lack motivation to engage in any activity beyond whatever earns them points (ie money, benefits, perks). If, however, actual weight loss, or minutes of exercise, or hours of sleep are incentivized, an employee is more likely to embrace these healthy habits and incorporate them into their day to day life.
As Rachel Permuth-Levin of Sodexo recently stated in The 2012 Workplace Trends Report: “It’s important to evaluate drivers of success, revenue generation, and operational efficiency” without sacrificing the core values of a company.