Workplace Wellness programs have been increasing in popularity over the past 15 to 20 years and are here to stay. There are 3 general reasons for driving their popularity:
The traditional way of directing resources largely to treat employees who are sick or injured is no longer sustainable. The obesity, inactivity and stress epidemic and associated health care costs are driving employers towards workplace wellness. However, not all workplace wellness programs are created equal. Piecemeal wellness programming such as blood pressure checks, lunch hour fitness walks or lectures, weight loss incentives or yearly stand-alone health risk assessments is not effective in reaching a high enough number of employees to slow the prevalence of preventable sickness and lower employer costs. Best wellness programs for companies must be driven from senior management, they must be integrated into the company culture, be strategic, comprehensive, well communicated and most importantly they must be evaluated yearly.
Evexia workplace wellness programs fulfill these criteria and recognize the link between health and productivity. Furthermore, the Evexia wellness approach has been tested through research and has been published. This approach is comprehensive in the true sense of the word. Musculoskeletal disorders, for example, are a major part of the Evexia workplace wellness, often ignored in other programs. So, best wellness programs for companies go beyond the traditional components of nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, etc. They are flexible, offer multiple choices of offerings that fit what employees need and view as important, are well communicated and most importantly they are evaluated. And the hallmark of best wellness programs for companies is high employee engagement and participation.
Employee participation is a key metric monitored closely as part of Evexia’s workplace wellness programs. A 60% participation rate over the first 2 years of a program is expected, striving for 80% or more as the program becomes established within the company culture and is well communicated and supported by senior management
A well rounded and comprehensive Health Risk Assessment (HRA) is usually the first step. The HRA offers 2 important pieces of information: a confidential and personal report for each participant that outlines their current health and lifestyle based on up-to-date guidelines for optimal health; and an aggregate report on the health profile of the whole organization, that also rates employee interest in addressing health issues and also estimates excess employer costs based on prevalence of risk factors shown to drive costs.
Thus the HRA identifies the health issues, gives recommendations for addressing these through a well-designed workplace wellness program and has a critical measurement role when repeated yearly. The measurement role of the HRA rates prominently in all Evexia workplace wellness programs, and is a key differentiating factor, including comparative analyses of health status from year to year, changes in estimated excess costs and a proprietary algorithm that measures a change in health. Drilling down to specific worksites and locations in a national company or different countries for a multinational company is another unique component of Evexia workplace wellness.
soon after completion of the HRA is very effective in empowering low-risk employees to maintain or improve their low-risk status and motivating high-risk employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Evexia’s preferred approach to coaching is to make the coaches widely available to employees either via the confidential Evexia coaching platform or via the telephone. Coaches and their profile and contact information are easily accessible to employees through the online platform that also allows the exchange of reports, questionnaires and other information between coach and employee. And as with the HRA, the Evexia coaching platform provides detailed reports that document usage, area of coaching, the number of new and repeat employees by coaching area, etc. The emphasis on measurement and documentation is embedded throughout all components of the Evexia workplace wellness programs
A variety of wellness challenges, videos, articles, interactive meal planner and other educational resources and services are easily accessible to employees through the Evexia online platform. A gold standard for the Evexia workplace wellness is that at least 60% of employees take part in an annual HRA and a minimum of 2 wellness activities. This metric has been documented through research that showed that while either HRA or wellness activities alone result in some savings, participation in both results in greater benefits. Furthermore, participation is heightened if activities are group-oriented and foster positive peer – pressure, camaraderie, and recognition.
Considering this important finding, the Evexia workplace wellness platform includes a social media component that encourages employees to communicate with each other, share information and wellness tips they found helpful and organize their group wellness activities. Variability in wellness content and customization are built-in features of the Evexia workplace wellness platform as it has been shown that multiple online interventions covering a variety of areas must be offered, so employees can find resources or activities of interest to them.
Linking incentives to participation and improvement in health is a proven way to get buy-in and motivate employees to participate and adopt healthier lifestyles. However, not all incentives are created equal. For example, incentives such as water bottles, mugs or t-shirts result in only about 10-15% participation. Gift cards, movie passes, and other merchandise can result in 15-50% participation, while cash incentives such as reimbursements for medical plans or draws for travel/weekend outings, etc can result in 35-75% participation. The Evexia workplace wellness platform offers an awards and incentives component where employees who reach certain predetermined criteria are tracked and easily identified in reports. So when employees reach the specific outcome or goal, they are rewarded either directly or by placing their name in a draw for a larger award. Other effective and low-cost incentives Evexia has used effectively include congratulatory certificates or plaques signed by the president or senior manager, write-ups and recognition in company newsletters and other social events.
Communicating with employees is critical. A workplace wellness program is as successful as its communication plan. Best wellness programs for companies dictate that communications are CEO – driven, messaging is clear, consistent and widely- circulated. The Evexia workplace wellness program comes with a uniquely comprehensive and detailed Communication and Rollout Plan, that includes templates for emails to employees from senior and middle management and the wellness coordinator, communicating how employees can participate, the criteria to be met to qualify for incentives and who they contact if they have any questions.
The wide distribution of posters, handouts, and other promotional material are essential to promote the workplace wellness program and motivate employees to participate. Templates of promotional material are included in the Evexia workplace wellness Communication and roll out Plan. Senior management should also let employees know that the company cares about them, emphasizing the value of good health and pointing out that the workplace wellness program is a benefit to them and that participation is voluntary and their data are confidential. Evexia also recommends that wellness “ is part of the conversation”, for example, is discussed at management and staff meetings and other workplace events.