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Why Wellness Programs Work... If Done Right

Posted Jan 24 2013 12:00am
Whenever I hear the words "corporate wellness" in the news -- which is often, nowadays -- "ROI"  is usually soon to follow. Benefits brokers and HR professionals often ask us, "What is the return-on-investment of wellness programs?"

What they really want to know is, "Does wellness work?"

Larry S. Chapman is somewhat of a wellness rock star. He founded the Chapman Institute , has authored more than a dozen books on wellness, and has designed successful wellness programs for 35 years. In an article published on CFO.com , he lays out Nine Reasons Why Wellness Works . Here's the Cliff's Notes version
  • Rising health care costs are inevitable without long-term behavior modification.
  • Wellness programs are proven to promote positive behavior modification, and their power to reduce costs has been documented by many studies.
  • Compared to the cost of medical premiums, wellness programs are a steal.
Larry mentions a crucial caveat, however: Wellness programs are only effective if they're done right. I can't emphasize this point enough. Having worked with corporate clients of all shapes and sizes, we know how important it is to get things right from the outset.

If you're a benefits broker, or if you're considering wellness options for your own company, make sure any potential vendor passes the following three-part test
  1. Do they understand your goals?
  2. Do they understand your population?
  3. Do they understand your company's unique culture?
We wouldn't dream of designing a wellness program without a thorough understanding of our client's goals. But beyond that initial step, we want to know your population as well as you do. Accountants on the fifth floor aren't the same as workers on the assembly line or engineers in the field. Each group has its own unique challenges, and we must tailor our programming accordingly.

The third part of our test can be tough, but ultimately the most important. If we're to gain your employees' trust, we need to understand what makes your company tick. Is there a strong group dynamic, or do employees work independently? Have there been other company-wide initiatives, and if so, how were they received?

I think the answers to these questions can be crucial, but I'd love to hear what you think. Are there other points to consider? Let me know in the comments section below.
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