Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reduce Expense through Employee Wellness

For a company, expense reduction is an everyday concern. When it comes to your employees, improving your bottom line means either cutting salaries or finding creative ways to save money elsewhere. Although it is common to provide health insurance benefits for employees in order to keep them healthy, many use their benefits for treatment rather than prevention, which can drive up the cost for everyone. Plus, the rising costs of health care are making even the cheapest plans less and less affordable for many businesses. But there is a way to reduce costs for both the company and the employee – by implementing a wellness program.


A wellness program focuses on prevention rather than treatment. This helps reduce costs for employees because fewer visits to the doctor will reduce expense on co-pays and office visit fees. A wellness program helps a company save money on expenses by lowering the cost of insurance for the entire group. In order to be successful, there are six areas that  your wellness program should focus on:


l        Healthier eating habits

l        Increased exercise level

l        Better working environment

l        Stress management lessons


Improving these four areas should, in turn, decrease employee absentee rates and health insurance claims over time, both of which will help with cost reduction.


Before you start any program, it is important to establish baselines so that you will be able to judge whether your wellness program is having a positive effect. The last thing you want is for your wellness program to increase expense, instead of decreasing it. Therefore, if you do not see gradual improvement, you will want to tweak your program or scrap it altogether. Establishing baselines will give you a starting point to help you make these determinations. You will want to be sure to ask employees about their overall health, their family history, and vices that may be promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.


One important key to a successful wellness program that achieves expense reduction is employee participation. There are two things you can do to increase your employee participation: 1) promote your program and its benefits well and 2) offer incentives. Several small incentives will reward more people, but one large incentive will generate more excitement. Of course, if you are part of a larger company, you will likely have a bigger budget for incentives (but possibly more employees to reward, as well.) Some ideas are to hold raffles and/or award wellness points that can be cashed in.


In the end, it is important that you get a return on your investment, which means that your program needs to help you save money on expenses. While you may be more interested in improving the lives of your employees, rather than cost reduction, your expense to start the program may be in vain if a majority of your employees aren't putting in their own effort. If they are unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle changes toward optimal health, not even the best wellness program will help them become healthier people. Employees may be also concerned with their financial health as well, for more information that can help them strive for financial security is Ken Himmlers blog at http://kenhimler.com. A happy employee is a productive employee!


Written by Mark Storms



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