Health and Wellness with Balance and Positivity

photo_2468_20070711Health and wellness programs have an important place in both current HR practices and in the near future for 2015. In a recent survey by the NBGH and Fidelity Investments, 93% of  employers indicated an increase or maintained funding for wellness-based incentive programs. So it seems health and wellness programs are here to stay, despite some backlash from both employees and industry pundits. There are a few keys to a successful long-term health and wellness strategy, here are a couple of points we think are important to note.

  1. Balance: Employers need to balance the priorities of their health and wellness programs with their employees’ privacy. Requiring invasive testing or asking an enormous amount of personal questions to require entry into a health and wellness program is probably the wrong way to go. Find simple baseline metrics and provide suggestions for additional metrics that employees can track privately if they want to. Keeping the program light and upbeat will lower the barrier to entry and increase participation.
  2. Positivity: In the carrot vs. stick metaphor, always stick with the carrots. Incentives work better as motivators than disincentives. Charging $100 extra on health insurance premiums alienates employees, while offering gift cards to healthy retailers makes employees feel included and encouraged to keep up a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on how to keep your health and wellness program successful and long-running check out articles from NPR and Employee Benefits News.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Loyalty Rewards Trend Toward Health and Wellness

healthy_holiday_gift_ideasThis year Maritz Motivation is having their own “12 days of Christmas,” revealing the 12 most redeemed items from their loyalty catalog and trends in electronics buying. 42% of the recent survey respondents indicated that they will redeem loyalty points to fund holiday shopping. What these consumers are buying could indicate large buying trends for the holidays. The first 3 items have been revealed, but one of the overarching themes to seasonal electronics buying could play directly into the health and wellness programs geared toward the early part of next year.

Here are 3 seasonal trends:

  1. Wearable Technology: It seems futuristic in theory, but smart watches, fitness and activity trackers and clothing with wearable technology built in have become increasingly mainstream. This can be looked at as a great way to start 2014, geared up for fitness. It can also streamline employee health and wellness initiatives early in the year and keep people moving. Once they gauge their (in)activity the wearable tech can help them track their progress all year long.
  2. 3D Printers: It’s the new trend. Now still considered a novelty item, these printers have the potential to become more mainstream as they become more affordable and people will invest in them to keep up with the times and bring DIY to a whole new level.
  3. Smart Homes: As we become more connected on all of our mobile devices, people want to stay connected to their houses, no matter the distance. Domestic upgrades now include connecting homes to mobile devices and digitizing functions like the temperature, the lighting and security systems.

For more information on the recent survey or the 12 most redeemed items and the trends they are setting head over to Maritz Motivation Solutions.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Use Rewards In Employee Wellness Programs

Employee Wellness Program

There are a few key factors to a successful employee wellness program. The folks at the Lane Report have boiled it down to three. Are you driving your program with these components? If not, it may be time to adjust.

  1. Manage by Reward, Not Punishment: In the age old discussion of the carrot and the stick, this group votes (as many do) to manage through carrots. Promoting a program through rewards will make the program positive and seem more voluntary, while maintaining comparable engagement rates.
  2. Be an Effective Motivator: Your employee wellness program should motivate employees through clear goals and communication, and the best motivator, peer leadership. If you identify a few employees who are willing to be “ambassadors” for the program from management to employees they will create a peer-to-peer environment that can be the ultimate motivator.
  3. Keep Technology Simple: However you choose to track your program, whatever software you give your employees access to, keep it simple. There are a number of platforms and programs to use and we aren’t in the business of endorsing any of them. Whatever you do, keep it simple so your staff doesn’t get lost in the technology. Don’t limit the reach of your employee wellness program by overcomplicating it.
Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

5 Steps to a Successful Employee Wellness Program

An employee wellness program is a great way to boost employee health and increase the organization’s bottom line. Here are five key steps to make sure your employee wellness program is as successful as it can be through the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

  1. Develop a Plan: Write a strategic plan with specific tactics and goals. This will help your employees understand the program and it will keep your whole team on track to achieve specific goals.
  2. Get Executive Buy-In: Getting executives on board and participating in your program will create a culture of leadership by example. If executives and managers get involved, their teams will be more motivated to do the same.
  3.  Establish Wellness Champions: Think of wellness champions like team captains. They can be any level of seniority but they should be involved in planning activities that are incorporated in the wellness program. It can give junior employees leadership roles and a chance to lead their colleagues while building camaraderie across teams.
  4. Gather Data: Get feedback and take biometric renderings. This will show if the workforce is engaged in the wellness program, so you can then find out what adjustments need to be made to maximize success and to make sure your staff is actually getting healthier.
  5. Evaluate: Ongoing measurement and evaluation will be critical to making adjustments and improvements in your program. Remember that evaluation should be ongoing, not a one time event.

For more information on how to maximize the impact and success of your employee wellness program, check out this article from HR.BLR.com.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Employee Health and Wellness Without Overstepping

Carrots and sticks are a relatively old tactic in employee health and wellness programs. They are tried and true because they work. Carrots tend to prove to work better than sticks, but whether you choose to reward improved behavior and program engagement or provide (usually financial) disincentives for a lack of participation, these detractors and rewards work well to boost participation and results from employee healthy and wellness programs.

However, in analyzing effective tactics for employee health and wellness programs, we often overlook the most basic component of an employee health and wellness program. To be frank, it can feel intrusive for employees to have employers involved in their healthcare. Especially when dealing with sensitive topics like high cholesterol and weight loss, it can be intrusive for some employees to have employers involved, even if they are providing health care and insurance.

In a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 62% of employees felt it was inappropriate for employers to require workers to pay more for their health insurance premiums if they don’t participate in wellness programs.

Additionally 74% said companies shouldn’t charge higher premiums if employees don’t achieve predetermined health goals. These two statistics bring employers back to basics and really require organizations to evaluate how they approach employee health and wellness programs. Will carrots or sticks work best for your company? Should employee health and wellness be a (strong) suggestion or a requirement for affordable coverage? Read more from the Wall Street Journal.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

3 Tips to Improve Your Employee Wellness Program

Employee wellness programs are a great way to create a culture of fitness while controlling healthcare costs. Employee wellness programs make employees healthier, more productive, and generally happier. It can be as simple as endorphins. For employers, wellness programs help build organizational culture, peer-to-peer relationships and a grateful, healthy staff.

Here are three areas to focus on to help build your employee wellness program into your organization.

  1. According to Information Week, 5-10% of your workforce is spending 70-80% of your healthcare budget. Focus on that 10%. Targeting their demographic and lifestyle with your wellness program will allow you to tailor the program to a smaller section of your workforce to have the largest financial impact.
  2. Create a third party liaison to provide advice, guidance, and boundaries to the program. Whether it’s a healthcare professional who can monitor employee progress while indicating employer implications, or someone on staff who can also remain impartial to both points of view.  Every program needs boundaries and someone who can advocate for both employers and employees.
  3. When engaging participants in your employee wellness programs, set employee expectations appropriately. Communication is key and ensuring employees know what the goals of the program are and what key milestones they will be expected to reach is key to any program’s success.

Employee wellness programs can be a powerful tool when they are at peak effectiveness. Ensure your employee wellness program is on track today.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Wellness Programs Should Save Employees Money

Working on and measuring savingsThe headline speaks for itself here. Employee wellness programs should save employees money, while also instilling healthy habits. A recent New York Times article suggests that, for most employers, wellness programs save money but only by penalizing employees for unhealthy behavior or bad biometric readings. This is entirely possible. Especially since the Affordable Care Act doesn’t have a structure in place allowing employers to levy financial penalties against employees who are outside of a healthy range.

However, if you’re going to spend the time and resources to implement a health and wellness program wouldn’t you rather invest in employee success rather than save a buck in their failure? Using a structured, well communicated program and small spot rewards is a recipe for mutual success between employee and employer. Using small denomination gift cards to healthy retailers like Whole Foods Market, CVS/pharmacy or Nutrisystem encourage employee participation and provide employer support of employees lifestyle efforts.

Focus on mutual successes with your employee rewards program because if employers win and employees lose the retention and engagement benefits of a truly successful employee wellness program will be lost. An initial investment can pay dividends in the longer term.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Health Care Facilities Focusing on Food with Brands Like SUBWAY

Subway restaurants are located in health care settings nationwide.

Photo courtesy of QSR Magazine, “Just What the Doctor Ordered” article

We’ve already seen a move towards healthier food options in schools and in the corporate world, but now America’s health care facilities are taking a renewed focus on the food they offer patients, visitors and their staff. Many hospitals are unable to afford the expense of keeping their cafeterias open in the late-night and early-morning hours, relying heavily on quick-serving brands. Taking that into account, many are opening up a new revenue stream by leasing restaurant space. But not just any quick-serve brands will fit this spot, hospitals are looking for the right quick-serve brands; meaning one that is focused on, what else, health.

One such quick-serve that has already been a staple in this space for some time is SUBWAY. They are leading a movement towards health that health care systems and hospitals alike are striving towards.

SUBWAY’s emphasis on fresh vegetables, sandwiches meeting the American Heart Association approval, and its recent elimination of undesirable ingredients make it an ideal candidate for the health and wellness movement inside these healing facilities.

With a high demand for healthy options, the space for healthier options continues to grow, with hospitals offering a better selection in cafeteria lines and food courts, as well as in vending machines and convenience stores.

To learn more about what these health care facilities are doing to improve food selection check out the article from QSR, “Just What the Doctor Ordered,” here.

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related; learning about the newest trends and technologies and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base.

Creating Specific Employee Health Goals

f4429a1a0a658cb0f0b6a1849e15ae8a_SEmployee health programs are still rising at a rapid rate. According to a recent Towers Watson survey 48% of employers are testing employees biometrics as part of an employee health program, compared to only 14% of employers doing the same 4 years ago. Using specific biometric goals like losing a certain amount of weight or lower cholesterol by a certain percentage is a tangible way to lower costs for both employees and employers.

Offering incentives for voluntary participation in programs like this are a great way to help employees reach goals and make long term healthy choices that help your organization and their well-being. Providing even small rewards like gift cards to healthy retailers like CVS/Pharmacy, GNC and Whole Foods Market provide the support and boost employees need to stay the healthy course and meet their goals.

On the flip side, employers’ other option to boost participation in employee health programs is to apply disincentives, or financial penalties on employee premiums for healthcare. While this is permitted, research has shown that providing positive incentives (carrots) rather than penalties (sticks) are more effective in nurturing employees to health rather than threatening change.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Wearable Devices in Your Corporate Wellness Program

Wearable devices are becoming a growing trend in the fitness community and now for employers looking to track their corporate wellness programs. Wearable technology provides a unique opportunity for both employees and corporate wellness program administrators to track participants’ progress in real time. Here are a few ways incorporating these “wearables” into your corporate wellness programs can boost its effectiveness.

  1. Create Team Challenges- Use the real-time data to create fun team challenges. Can the marketing team take more steps in a week than the IT team? Program administrators can track progress and bolster competitiveness within the office. The competitiveness can become loftier wellness goals for all teams involved in the challenge.
  2. Make “Wearables” Part of Company Culture- Providing a wearable fitness tracking device to participants of your corporate wellness initiative has the capacity to boost participation and get employees engaged with the program on a day-to-day and even hour-by-hour basis.
  3. Use Incentives for Participants- Providing nominal incentives, like small denomination gift cards to healthy retailers like Whole Foods Market, GNC and CVS/pharmacy can give employees a boost in a healthy direction. Promoting wellness by example is a productive way to boost participation and level of commitment.

For more ways to promote your corporate wellness program through wearable technology (and vice versa) head over to Entrepreneur.com.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.