Wellness Programs – Preaching to the Choir?

I just wrote a very interesting (interesting from the standpoint of the response I received, not trying to tout my own writing!) article on wellness programs for Human Resource Executive.

The premise was based on a recent AP story that challenged the value of wellness programs in terms of the ability for the use of incentives to really prompt any action on the part of employees that would result in weight loss. The response from potential sources was overwhelming in terms of their support for the value of these programs and I received many, many compelling stories, examples and a bit of data.

Ultimately, though, I find myself skeptical (no surprise there, I suppose – tend to be my nature). In my experience as an employee at organizations that offer these types of programs/incentives it has often seemed that the participants represent those who are already engaged and interested in healthy behaviors. Those that aren’t don’t get involved. They’re still sneaking a smoke when they can, eating whatever and whenever they’d like and avoiding exercise like the plague. Not that there’s anything wrong with that and not that it’s really any of my business, but it does make me curious about organizations’ efforts to encourage health behavior and the value – based on real, bottom-line results.

Still, maybe just offering the programs sends an important message. Who knows? Seems like nobody really, yet many, many companies seem committed to continuing with or implementing these programs. Probably not a bad thing.

From a communication standpoint I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who has been involved in a wellness program that really went after the tough converts. What did you do? How did it work? What would you recommend to other companies?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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One Response to “Wellness Programs – Preaching to the Choir?”

  1. Gail DeLano says:

    Hi Lin,
    Interesting post, which made me remember some research a wellness client pointed to us some time back. The University of Michigan’s Health Management Research Center found that a key strategy for employers is to focus on the health of low-risk people.

    Without appropriate health maintenance programs in place, 20 to 40 percent of low-risk employees are likely to move to higher risk status within just one year. In fact, the report published by Partnership for Prevention and the U.S. Dept of Commerce put a number on it–$350 savings per year for keeping low-risk employees low-risk.

    Of course, this can vary for certain employer populations — if there is a high rate of injury or disease in a company, a disease management approach may be very cost effective.

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