Corporate Wellness Programmes – do they work?

Western world corporate organisations are finally taking the responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees and, to a certain extent their families, by investing in a wider range of health and wellness initiatives across the company. But do these programmes actually work?

 

Research of the outcomes of such Corporate Wellness Programmes clearly show that employers overwhelmingly expressed confidence that workplace wellness programs reduce medical cost, absenteeism, and health-related productivity losses. Furthermore, in an analysis of a nationwide US report, when comparing wellness program participants to statistically matched nonparticipants, they found statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in exercise frequency, smoking behavior, and weight control in those that were incentivised to follow corporate wellness initiatives.

 

Research showed that there were five key facilitators of successful wellness programmes (excerpts from RAND Employer Survey 2012)

Effective communication strategies: All organizations in our case studies employ strategies to communicate wellness program information to employees, ranging from face-to-face interaction to mass dissemination. Employers cited the importance of broad outreach and clear messaging from organizational leaders, especially for those organizations with a large and geographically dispersed workforce.

Opportunity for employees to engage: Those included in the case study discussions revealed that making wellness activities convenient and easily accessible for all employees are strategies that employers use to raise the level of employee engagement. Some focus group participants cited limited access to wellness benefits because of wait times and rigid work schedules.

Leadership engaged at all levels: Evidence from case studies suggests that for programs to be a success, senior managers need to consider wellness an organizational priority to shift the company culture. Buy-in from direct supervisors is crucial to generate excitement and connect employees to available resources.

Use of existing resources and relationships: All organizations in our case studies leverage existing resources and build relationships, often with health plans, to expand offerings at lower cost.

Continuous evaluation: Organizations from our case studies approach wellness with a continuous quality improvement attitude. Though no employers from our case studies conducted formal evaluations, all five solicit feedback from staff with the goal of improving future wellness programming. Three employers conducted needs assessments to develop an understanding of the wellness needs of their workforce.

 

Evidence on Program Impact

“Consistent with prior research, we find that lifestyle management interventions as part of workplace wellness programs can reduce risk factors, such as smoking, and increase healthy behaviors, such as exercise. These effects are sustainable over time and clinically meaningful. This result is of critical importance, as it confirms that workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, the main driver of premature morbidity and mortality as well as health care cost in the United States. An important question for further research is how program design and implementation can improve program effects.”

For that reason, Level UP Corporate Wellness programmes are diverse and measurable, and focus on long term lifestyle change for individuals. We believe that intrinsic changes in habits will create the long term life-enhancing results that businesses want for their employees.

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