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Include Dependents in Employee Wellness Programs to Boost Health and Improve ROI

Posted Jul 16 2012 12:00am
Although the workplace is an excellent place to introduce health and wellness, HR managers and wellness professionals know that employees themselves are only a fraction of the equation. It's important not to forget the dependents (spouses, partners, and children) whose health also impacts the company's bottom line.

An article in Bloomberg Business Week focused on companies that are actively trying to include family members in wellness programs. Large corporations such as Aetna, JPMorgan Chase, IBM, and Dell have all begun providing incentives for family members to participate in wellness. Doing so makes good business sense.

The article discusses one IBM manager who found it increasingly difficult to make healthy choices at home. With a three-year-old, who could blame her? Now, IBM's wellness program engages her by providing healthy meal plans and health tips by email. The result? She lost 10 pounds and is a more productive, focused employee. And the good news keeps on coming! IBM reports that more than 50% of the kids in the program have lost weight as well.

Regardless of whether family members are directly covered under the company health insurance, the social support of loved ones can go a long way towards helping an employee stay motivated and engaged in office wellness initiatives. When dependents are included in company health programs, it encourages a true culture of wellness.

Kudos to these companies for including families in their wellness programs. It not only saves money--it's the right thing to do.
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