The facts are clear: Wellness programs lead to cost savings, happier employees and a more productive workforce. Most likely, little else needs to be said to sway your CFO, but a larger problem remains. How do you implement and maintain a corporate wellness program that works?
* Fifty-75 percent of all dollars spent on health-plan costs are lifestyle, or behaviorally, driven from conditions like obesity, hypertension, stress and smoking.
* By reducing the lifestyle-driven portion of the expense, companies can impact or mitigate the insurance cost.
* From 2002-2008, Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million dollars through their corporate wellness program, with the program returning $2.71 for every dollar invested, according to Jeffrey Hollender in an article titled "Invest in Employee Wellness: Johnson & Johnson reports $250 Million ROI."
* Fifty-six studies have shown that the ROI of corporate wellness programs are an even higher $5.81 for every $1 spent due to reduced medical costs and absenteeism, according to a white paper from the American Institute for Preventative Medicine titled "The Health & Economic Implications of Worksite Wellness Programs."
* Employers don't know how to do it. They may be unsure of regulations, and best practices and weary of "encouraging" employees to quit smoking, or begin exercising and improving their diets.
* Organizations may not have the resources to successfully manage such a program.
* Companies are uncertain of the investment and resources needed to implement such a program, with objections like "How much more does this cost on top of my healthcare costs? There is no additional budget for this. This sounds like a lot of work, who will manage the program?"
* Total employee wellness -- Wellness means taking complete responsibility of the items you have control over like obesity, hypertension, stress and smoking.
* Get employees on board -- The art form is getting employees to voluntarily participate. Wellness plans cannot achieve success if employees don't participate and sometimes people are not motivated for change. Committed participation is the art form or "secret sauce."
* Work with an expert -- Find a company that works with customers to create cost savings, on their insurance premiums, through their unique wellness program.
Successful wellness programs lead to cost savings and happier, more productive employees. The secret to success is choosing the right partner to implement the program and help get employees motivated.
Written by Gary Levine, CEO of GS Levine Commercial Insurance Services