Insurance Costs Are Out of Control
Last month we wrote about how promotions can actually reduce insurance costs. We learned about the five ways promotional products can help to drive such programs — promoting, maintaining interest, a sense of belonging, peer affiliation, and rewarding positive changes. This month, we’ll drill down a bit to look at some recommendations for actually implementing a wellness program. A wellness program has one goal — to improve health in order to prevent or eliminate health risk factors and future chronic diseases. The keys are to keep healthy people healthy and to teach unhealthy, at-risk people how to reduce or eliminate risk factors in their lives. To begin, let’s look at the definition from healthcare.gov:
It’s important to create an environment with positive messages and incentives to make management and coworkers aware of the program. Training is an essential component. Signage, apparel, journals, calendars and other communication tools are needed in order to educate and reward positive safety behaviors. Everything should be couched in an attitude of positivity — anything negative could create an environment for the non-reporting of accidents. This could violate OSHA rules and actually risk the loss of deductibility of the program. A common example of a negative incentive is a program rewarding teams for days of injury-free work. An employee could easily feel pressured not to report an incident for fear of causing the group to fail. Instead, it is more effective to reward employees along the way for making smart accident-prevention decisions.
Common characteristics of an effective wellness program include:
- The establishment of a supportive work environment that encourages positive lifestyles
- Risk reduction through cessation of tobacco use, encouraging exercise and fitness, improving nutrition and stress reduction
- Modifying health risks such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and anxiety and depression
- Encouraging cancer screenings and preventative exams, flu shots, immunizations, and dental and vision exams
- Using coaching, training, tools, and incentives (promotional products) to help individuals make behavioral changes to enhance quality of life
- Making employee participation voluntary
One company created a program to emphasize employee appreciation while branding the firm. A related goal was to create a competitive environment to encourage healthy behavior. They budgeted a certain amount per employee, knowing they would make this back in reduced insurance costs. To drive the program, promotional items had to be useful, tangible, and allow organizers to quantify the amount of physical activity. Products were selected that encouraged multiple interactions rather than the “get-and-forget” mentality. With these guidelines, they developed the Grab-and-Go workout kit. It included a branded workout t-shirt, a branded water bottle, a bag it keep all items together, and a pedometer to track daily physical activity.
For a staff appreciation day, Grab-and-Go workout kits were given to employees along with a handout describing an inter-office competition called the Move-It Challenge. For that, employees were asked to wear the pedometer inside and out for a six-week period, the duration of the competition, and to record their steps every day. The employees with the highest number of steps at the end of the competition were announced at a major company event, and received high quality gifts.