Workplace Wellness: Stories and more
- A new study lends credence to return-on-investment (ROI) claims. In the February issue of Health Affairs, a meta-analysis suggests that medical costs fall by $3.27 and absenteeism costs fall by $2.73 for every dollar spent on employee wellness programs.
- A newer study casts doubt on ROI claims. In July 2010, a study by the National Institute for Health Care Reform concludes, “ROI is uncertain and measurement poses many challenges… Employers looking to wellness as a quick fix for high health costs are those least likely to see positive returns.” We agree – a full Wellness Resource Network is a mandatory set of components for long term compliance and participation.
- Wellness programs flock to social media. Social media company Shape Up the Nation triples its revenue for the third straight year. We applaud those social interventions and the innovative gamification many companies, like BigDoor Media, bring to the wellness table.
- What about carrots vs. sticks: Proponents of intrinsic motivation rallyto counter prevailing assumptions about the efficacy of extrinsic “nudges” such as financial incentives.
- Health care reform’s impact on wellness programs remains as precarious as health care reform. If the federal government has developed an application process for the reform bill’s small-business workplace wellness grants — originally scheduled to be funded starting in 2011 — we haven’t seen it yet, but hope to.
- Outcomes-based wellness incentives pick up steam. One wellness vendor reports that implementation of outcomes-based programs — which link incentives to metrics like lower BMI, healthier cholesterol levels, and better self-care of chronic conditions – increased nearly 300% within their book-of-business in 2009 and 2010. A Towers Watson survey confirms that many employees are considering an outcomes-based strategy. At HCD we begin with great programs but always include VALIDATION and ADMINISTRATION in the Wellness Resource Network
- Happiness takes its place at the wellness table. According to the Wall Street Journal, a growing number of employers offer programs that promote happiness, drawing on the emerging field of positive psychology (which is often sadly confused with positive thinking and pop psychology). Zappos popularizes its own brand of happiness with CEO Tony Hsieh’s bestselling Delivering Happiness. We have added our RESOURCE in the form of PLAY4 and PLAY4 Community
In the end, 2010 was a banner year for wellness program managers. Government intervention, for better or worse, represents a coming-of-age for employee wellness, demonstrating that the industry is a force to be reckoned with and affording wellness the prominent position it deserves on the national stage. What’s more, it was a year in which long-held assumptions about employee wellness were challenged, bold approaches were advanced, and a new generation of thought leaders emerged. If you consider yourself to be among the thought leaders we welcome you to HCD – and out conversations.