What’s the difference between a company with a high participation rate in wellness programs and a low one? As it turns out, front-line managers—the people who run the daily operations and work the most closely with their colleagues—are actually the ones who can have the most influence, and can best help improve their company’s wellness participation rates.
Finding the answer to increasing wellness participation has vexed employers for years. We’ve done a good job at getting younger, healthier employees to participate in wellness. And employers recognize and appreciate the benefits of comprehensive and integrated wellness programs.
But we haven’t quite found out how to motivate people who have tried and failed or those who have multiple conditions and don’t think anything can help; who think they are too busy; or who simply would rather go home and have a pizza, six pack and watch TV.
Unfortunately it’s individuals with poor lifestyle habits who are costing employers the most. On average, for every $1 of medical and pharmacy costs there is about $2.3 of health-related productivity costs that employers must pay—and that figure is much greater for some conditions. We must find ways to get these non-participants in wellness programs motivated and involved –- for our good—and theirs.
Back to the role of managers; we work with large employers and health plans nationwide. Several times a year we meet with employers at a Summit to share best practices as well as research and analysis we’ve conducted on outcomes from specific health and wellness programs. There’s a good cross section of employers at the Summit who struggle every day to find ways to hold down costs and help their workers become healthier and more productive.