Health care, regardless of the current political controversy about the Federal initiative, has become more and more expensive. Group health benefits have been one of the human resource benefits that has risen in price astronomically.
Over the past five years, many organizations have discovered that investing in an incentive-driven health improvement program has multiple advantages for a company. Not only does it give the employees the impression that the organization is interested in helping them achieve better health, health improvement programs have also been credited with lowering absenteeism and improving productivity. The latter, increased productivity, may be due to the endorphins that are released during exercise.
Health improvement programs that offer specific incentives are more successful in encouraging employees to utilize them than non-incentived programs. Incentives other than getting healthier can be gift cards or cash, but they also can be intangible rewards, such as recognition for achieving weight loss goals, or quitting smoking.
Intiatives that promote better health can also offer lunch and learns, featuring local medical service providers who can discuss nutrition or behavior modification support.
There are three primary angles that can be the focus of a health improvement program:
- Condition program. Programs to manage and control chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes or obesity.
- Lifestyle program. Programs in this category include behavior modification to quit smoking or lose weight.
- Health risk program. Programs such as free flu shots, nutritional counseling or access to health care providers and information.
Although traditional EAP or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)are fairly common, more and more employers are realizing the distinct advantages of expanded health improvement opportunities for their employees.
Regardless of health insurance issues or group benefits, the goal of implementing a health improvement program as a group benefit can result in a happier and healthier workforce. When your employees are happier, they are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, which has repercussions in reduced training and recruiting expense for the long term.
The best programs, however, will fall flat unless they have buy-in by management and employees. Offering incentives to participate and working with each associate to define health goals to offer personalized recognition and rewards will result in greater acceptance. Improvements to morale can only be obtained if the program is communicated clearly to throughout the organization and all levels of associates are included.
Do you have an interest in learning more about group benefits or employee motivation and morale improvement? Do you have a program you’d like to share? We welcome your comments.