Risk Insider: Monica Manske

3 Keys to a Successful Worksite Wellness Program

By: | September 28, 2018

Monica Manske is the Sr. Manager of Workers’ Compensation and Employee Safety at Rochester Regional Health. She has spent her entire career in the insurance industry with experience as carrier, employer and is active in workers’ compensation advocacy. She can be reached at [email protected]

Worksite wellness programs have as many shapes and sizes as people.  There is no one size fits all solution, but every organization can incorporate wellness programs to reduce risk.

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Overall fitness can increase mental acuity and reduce stress — both of which have been directly linked to safety, but can also have the added benefits of weight loss, reducing risk for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and more. By addressing the wellness of an individual, we can help decrease absenteeism as well as medical and disability insurance expense. Plus it increases productivity, safety and employee retention.

Sounds great. Simple, right? Sadly, no.

Employers face an ever-increasing challenge engaging our workforce in wellness while trying to strike a work/life balance.

Whether embracing the idea of starting a worksite wellness program or leading a mature program, identifying your foundation is a key component. Having a foundation to build off of allows you to continue to improve your program over time.

As a busy mother of two children active in several sports, there were times when my own wellness took a back burner to life. That is the current reality that parents of school-age children live in, and organizations recognize this and have stepped up.

Whether embracing the idea of starting a worksite wellness program or leading a mature program, identifying your foundation is a key component. Having a foundation to build off of allows you to continue to improve your program over time.

These three considerations can be your springboard to success:

1) Know your audience.

What are the demographics and job types of your employee base? Reviewing your medical and disability insurance utilization will assist in identifying the drivers determining the design of your wellness program. Most importantly, ask your employees. For them to perceive value, the program needs to meet their needs. Consider a focus group or survey.

2) Depth of the wellness program.

As you develop your proposal and review ROI and VOI, consider what your company will offer directly or indirectly. Decide if you will offer biometric screenings, healthy food options, classes, a walking program, nutrition counseling, ergonomic solutions, flu shots or more. Will you develop team competitions or participate in established local events such as a run/walk? The options are endless. Some organizations have their own fitness centers onsite. This is a convenient option for staff accessibility, but may not be a viable option for most employers. Consider a relationship with local gym. Some may have medical insurance or corporate discount programs. These partnerships may offer many benefits that a stand-alone employer-hosted fitness center cannot.

3) Infrastructure to sustain the wellness program.

When you have looked at your organizational needs and the breadth of the program, your final consideration is organizational support. The wellness program could have the best plan ever, but if there is not the human-resource bandwidth to make it happen, it will not likely be successful. The legwork you put into the ROI and VOI will assist you in determining your budget and human resource needs.

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As your program develops and evolves it is important to keep an eye on the future. Specifically, how do you incorporate technology into your wellness program? Electronic devices and fitness platforms have taken the original pedometers to a new universe. Even many gyms have their own apps now. Leverage the technology for your benefit.

Developing a worksite wellness program should not be a heavy lift, but it does require planning to set yourself and your employees up for success. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]