Wellness in the Workplace

Author, Shane Medlin, Employee Benefits Account Executive, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.

Image of Woman wearing work pants heals on one foot and running/workout shoes on other.

The care and concern by employers for their employees’ well-being has significantly increased over the past few years. About 75% of employers indicated that their companies offered some type of employee wellness program or service, according to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Wellness programs can benefit employers in many ways, including better insurance rates, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and a positive culture in the workplace.

Many companies take a soft approach in introducing a wellness program to employees. Wellness programs are offered on a voluntary basis to employees as a way to get them engaged. This prevents employees from pushing back and disrupting those who do not wish to participate. It is also important to form a “wellness committee” comprised of both human resources personnel and employees to implement new ideas and encourage coworkers that may be apprehensive. 

Initially, it is important to avoid providing any kind of incentive attached to employee medical testing, health questionnaires, and screenings. Focus on participating in a walking challenge, encouraging gym memberships, non-profit walks in the community, etc. This way the majority of employees can be comfortable in participating.

Many employer-sponsored group health plans have medical insurance carriers that offer wellness incentives including gift card rewards and discounts or reimbursements for gym memberships. It is important to check with your insurance carriers to find out what they offer. It will help reduce costs related to wellness programs so a greater variety of options can be offered to your employees.

Using voluntary wellness as a foundation for your wellness plan, will allow you to incorporate outcome based wellness programs in the future. This method incentivizes employees to attain a specific health outcome such as weight loss, smoking cessation and biometric screening results. It is important to allow all employees to qualify for an incentive at least once per year. The reward must not exceed 30% of the total cost of health care coverage, or 50% if the program is designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use. Lastly, be sure to offer a reasonable alternative if an employee has restrictions in participating in certain activities.

As your company decides to incorporate or improve a wellness program, look to Rancho Mesa Insurance for assistance. For more information about wellness programs and how to get started, contact Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 438-6902.