Wellness Programs Reap Big RewardsYour employees work stressful jobs. You know this and they know this; it’s just the nature of their line of work. How can you help them mitigate this stress so they stay healthy, happy and engaged in their jobs, which will benefit them as well as your facility? Consider starting a wellness program. Your employees will become healthier and so will your bottom line.

If you think that a wellness program is a terrific thing to have, but are wary of starting because it won’t help you save money in the long run, think again.

An article in the Harvard Business Review titled “What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs” reported that Johnson & Johnson believes its employee wellness programs “have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.”

Medical facilities have also seen a great impact on their bottom line through wellness programs. MD Anderson Cancer Center created an employee health and well-being department in 2001. This department was staffed by a doctor and nurse case manager. Within just six years, the amount of sick leave taken decreased by 80 percent, and the number modified-duty days declined by 64 percent and it was attributed to the wellness program. The article went on to report how the savings helped the facility save over $1.5 million dollars in paid wages and decreased their premium posts for workers’ comp insurance by 50 percent. 

So how can you start an employee wellness program at your facility? Here are some steps to take:

  1. Form a committee from all levels of your company/facility. This committee will begin by conducting an employee survey. In the survey, ask your employees what types of wellness facilities or benefits they’d like.
  2. In the survey, ask your employees how active they are in their off hours. You’ll also need to find out what kind of lifestyle your employees are living. How many employees smoke? How many workers exercise regularly? How many follow a set diet? And so on.
  3. Consider having a kick-off party or health fair when you begin your program. Offer blood pressure screenings, bone density screenings, BMI tests, etc.
  4. Be sure to encourage your employees to exercise during their off hours. For example, why not put together a team to walk/run one of your community’s 5k races?
  5. Reward your employees when they meet a goal. Prizes could be a pedometer, stress balls, a veggie steamer, etc.
  6. Many wellness programs offer employees access to free, for a limited time, or discounted individual and family counseling programs.
  7. Consider offering a program for employees suffering from alcohol or drug problems. Ensure that these programs follow the facility’s policies on drug and alcohol usage.
  8. Be diligent in following up. Find out how the program’s working. Ask your employees if they’re using the program. What would they like to change or add? Are they finding it useful? Make adjustments to the program based upon their responses and the program’s effectiveness.

Does your facility have an employee wellness program? How long have you offered it? Have you noticed a decrease in your healthcare costs?

Be sure to bookmark our Snelling Medical Blog! Next week we’ll discuss “When Is It Time to Start a Specialized Care Unit?” If you have any questions, just give us a shout out!

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.