Fortune 500 companies have used wellness program to effectively combat rising cost of health care and reaped long-term benefits for the companies.

Many studies have shown healthier employees lead to lower health care cost and absenteeism. The 2010 Mercer Survey of Financial Impact of Employee Absence found that the total cost of employee absence average about 35% of the base payroll. This includes the direct cost of employees’ pay and indirect cost of replacement expense and lost in productivity. The 35% has not included the admin expense in managing employee absence.

Healthy workers are less prone to injury and when injured, they recover faster. On the other hand, out-of–shape workers have higher risk for injuries and healing is delayed or complicated by other health factors.

The increasing cost pressure, leaner staffs brought about by the prolong economic downturn, employers has to reduce all types of absence to help maintain productivity

The types of wellness program a company can undertake depend on the company size and the budget available. Generally, 2-3% of the budget should be set aside for well designed wellness program that involves 90% employee participation plus a wellness coach on site to effect behavior change.

Before you launch a wellness program, there are some areas you need to consider:

1) Evaluate

Know what are the cost drivers for employee health. Analyze data for worker’s compensation, health care cost and absenteeism. Identify common issues and trends.

2) Workplace Assessment

Do a survey to identify interest and motivation of employees as well as barriers to participation.  Assess the workplace for opportunities for on-site physical activities and nutrition of on-site vending machines, canteen and office pantry.

3) Education

Decision makers or upper management should be enlightened on how wellness program can affect reduce health care cost as well as the benefits that can achieve.

4) Management Support

On-going management support is critical in the success of the wellness program. Wellness program goals must be communicated company wide to assess and secure the commitment of supervisors.

5) Identify goals and metric for measuring success

Most management would like to see the return on investment of the wellness program. Consensus must be established on the goals and metrics for determining success.

The rewards will be huge if the wellness program is well planned and implemented with management commitment.

Do you need help with designing and implementing corporate wellness program? Contact me for further discussion on the corporate wellness services I can provide.

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