4 ways to improve workplace wellness programs

Insurers can help companies develop successful wellness programs by focusing on the influx of Millennials in the workforce, according to Business & Legal Resources (BLR)  blog post.

"Millennials are very comfortable with the idea of employers being involved in their health," Carmella Sebastian, senior medical director of clinical client solutions at Florida Blue told BLR. "As Boomers retire and Millennials surge in the door, the demand to integrate wellness into the workplace will continue to grow."

To cultivate workplace wellness programs, Sebastian offered several steps insurers and companies can take to boost effectiveness and increase employee participation. Here's a summary of some of those suggestions, rounded out with coverage from our own FierceHealthPayer newsletters.

1. Form a wellness committee

A wellness committee should include employees with a desire to see wellness initiatives implemented throughout the company. The group, made up of Millenials as well as workers in other age ranges, should have a charter and a budget. "Be sure to also pick some people who have struggled with their wellness behaviors. They will be easier for most people to relate to," Sebastian said.

2. Tailor each program to company culture

Effective wellness programs have the ability to tailor awards and incentives toward each company's unique culture. In most cases, financial incentives, such as paycheck rewards, are the best way to engage and motivate employees, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Understanding a company's population, including whether it has lot of smokers or a free gym available to employees, can help gear a wellness program specifically toward the company's needs, BLR noted.

3. Celebrate successes

Encourage participants by celebrating when a company reaches a goal, no matter how small. Make a big deal about achieving certain thresholds to boost employee morale. "Take every opportunity to share participation numbers, statistics on progress, or best of all, human interest stories," Sebastian told BLR, adding that such steps provide tangible results to demonstrate the program's effectiveness.

4. Include technology

Technology can make wellness programs more engaging and interesting for employees, especially the Millennial generation. "Programs that use social media and gamification are particularly appealing," Bryce Williams, director of Wellvolution for Blue Shield of California, previously told FierceHealthPayer in an interview.

Eight weeks after adding a social gaming aspect to a wellness program for its own employees, almost 1,000 Blue Shield workers walked, ran and hiked more than 350 million steps, or 175,000 miles. And El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., launched a wellness program featuring social sharing and gamification to help its employees lose weight.

To learn more:
- read the Business & Legal Resources blog post