Workplace Wellness Programs Approaches and Take-Aways

"Wellness program initiatives continue to evolve as more organizations look to implement programs in 2016. Their popularity has grown over the years, producing studies that now consider uptake, participation rates, and return on investment.

The results have been positive and interest remains high among employers. According to Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, 42 percent of respondents say they are considering adding or expanding programs to improve employee health and wellbeing in 2016.

For companies that already implemented a wellness program, they report seeing ROI at anywhere between $1-$3, for every $1 invested.

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Types of Wellness Programs and What They Mean

There’re many ways employers and employees can capitalize on ensuring positive outcomes with their program. Understanding their culture and finding compatible initiatives is a good place to start. Here’s a quick review of the main types of wellness programs companies traditionally implement:

Participatory Wellness Programs

Participatory programs sound just like their name. Companies give employees health related benefits such as a free gym membership, paid entry into a volleyball league or pay for a smoking-cessation class.

Health Contingent Wellness Programs

Health Contingent programs require employee participation to meet a health standard to receive a reward. The two categories of contingent programs that exit today are activity-only and outcome-based.

Activity-Only Contingent Wellness Program

Companies may distribute a Fitbit to employees who want to start keeping track of their steps everyday and give employees a $25 gift card for participating – this is an example of an activity-only contingent wellness program.

Outcome-Based Wellness Initiative

Another company may require employees to obtain certain results on a biometric screening to receive a $25 gift card – this is an outcome-based wellness initiative.

Only health contingent programs must comply with several ACA guidelines.

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However, employers also need to clearly understand the implications of how their initiatives will be regulated under several different agencies as well. The landscape looks good for workplace wellness programs to continue evolving and gain even more acceptance, as employers remain mindful of maintaining healthcare costs year over year."