Why wellness programs sometimes fail

Although more than 85 percent of large employers offer a wellness program, Gallup polls have shown only 60 percent of workers know about the health benefit. What's more, only 40 percent of employees aware of a wellness program actually participate in it, according to the Gallup Business Journal.

"U.S. companies that promote wellness are on the right track to help workers control their healthcare costs and lead more productive lives, but their wellness programs are probably not as effective as leaders want them to be," Ed O'Boyle, global practice leader for Gallup's workplace and marketplace consulting, wrote in the article.

Merely offering a wellness program isn't enough to boost the health and wellbeing of employees; insurers must work with employers to help educate workers about the existence of the programs and the benefits of participating. That should involve tapping managers to create the link between employee engagement and well-being. Managers can celebrate employees when they reach certain wellness goals, no matter how small, to boost employee morale and demonstrate the program's effectiveness, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

But engagement, while important, isn't adequate on its own to meet all five essential elements of well-being--purpose, social, financial, community and physical. About 66 percent of engaged employees still lack at least two of these elements.

To determine whether a company's wellness program will bring about change, insurers can work with employers to answer these questions:

  • Do the company's programs incorporate all five well-being elements? Does the organizational culture support these wellness initiatives?
  • Do the company's leaders support the wellness program? Do they regularly communicate the value of the program and model behaviors the program aims to achieve?
  • Can managers successfully engage their employees?

To learn more:
- read the Gallup Business Journal article

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