EEOC Proposes Rules For Workplace Wellness

workplace wellness

Image courtesy of govloop.com

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or EEOC) released their anticipated proposed rules regarding how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to workplace wellness programs. While rules are not yet in their final form and employers are not required to comply just yet, the EEOC states that employers are free to comply with the proposed rules now to reduce any risk until the final rules are issued, which is anticipated to be later this year.

Here are the highlights of the proposed rules:

  1. Alignment with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) incentive rules.  The ADA would permit financial incentives for wellness programs as long as the incentive does not exceed 30% of the cost of employee coverage.
  2. Employers may not deny or limit coverage for nonparticipants in an employee wellness program.
  3. Group health plan wellness programs that collect medical information must provide employees with a notice. The notice must be written in an understandable manner and describe how the information will be used and how the employer will prevent improper disclosure of medical information.
  4. Employers and vendors must protect confidentiality of health information that is collected through wellness programs. Employers should be within the rules of HIPAA privacy.
  5. The EEOC expects employers and vendors to have clear privacy policies and procedures related to collection, storage and disclosure of medical information. Policies and procedures should address how to handle breaches of confidentiality.

Read more from Barbara J. Zabawa from the Center for Health Law Equity about the proposed rules here.

If you have any questions or comments about any of the proposed rules you can submit them directly to the federal eRulemaking portal here. Comments are due by June 19, 2015.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Wearables Embed Employers in Health and Wellness Initiatives

health and wellness initiativesWearable technology is gaining popularity in the consumer market and has the potential to transform the way employers structure their employee health and wellness initiatives. The transformation will have an effect on the price tag of these initiatives, but the direct effect of incorporating wearable technology will ease the time it takes for employers to track employee wellness activity.

Wearables allow employers to track employee activity automatically and integrate it into a master database. There is no need to verify and compare employee activity. Wearable technology streamlines health and wellness initiatives by embedding employers into the process alongside employees.

Wearables also provide a unique motivator for both employers an employees. Employees get involved with the latest technology trends, and they get to get competitive with both themselves and  their employees through existing social networks and digital infrastructure. Employers get a full picture of how employees are doing with their fitness goals which allows them to keep struggling employees motivated and reward employees who are reaching their goals.

Having automatic tracking also allows employers to streamline rewards into health and wellness initiatives. Since employers can track goals and achievements they can deliver rewards automatically. With the flexibility of e-gift cards to deliver gifts digitally, the entire cycle because cheaper for employers and more streamlined and consistent for employees.

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.

Top Five Corporate Wellness Trends to Consider

If budgets and your office slacks are fitting tighter than ever this year then the answer may be implementing a corporate wellness program. The focus on employee health has increased over the years, especially as more and more statistics are pointing the savings to be had from a healthy workplace.

Consider this, in the past decade alone employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased by 119% and for ever dollar a company spends on worker medical/pharmacy costs, employers absorb two to three dollars of health-related productivity costs. Now when it comes to sick employees the trend continues to add up in dollars. While absenteeism can reportedly cost a company upwards of $100 billion, those employers working through their sick days can cost even bigger bucks in terms of lost productivity at $150 billion annually.*

It’s no wonder corporate wellness programs seem like the golden ticket to saving money. But in order for your corporate wellness program to be successful it’s important to remember that the focus should be placed on the well being of your employees and providing a healthier work space and less about controlling costs.

We drill down the Top 5 Corporate Wellness Trends to Consider in 2015 here.

corporate wellness*Encouraging healthy behaviors is good for your bottom line white paper, Hallmark Business, click here for full white paper.

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

Optimize a Successful Wellness Rewards Program

wellness rewards program

Nearly 90% of employers offer wellness incentives, or financial rewards or prizes, as a means to engage their employees in creating and sustaining a more health conscious lifestyle, according to a recent survey from Fidelity. Rewards offered today are growing from $260 per employee to an average of $521 per employee. That’s an increase of 57% from 2009.

Learn How Your Company Can Optimize a Successful Wellness Rewards Program

Thursday, March 26
1pm EDT | 12pm CDT | 10am PDT

wellness rewards program

Attend this webinar and learn how your company can optimize the success of a wellness rewards program and create sustainable health for employees and organization.

The Corporate Health & Wellness Association, in partnership with CVS/pharmacy and GiftCard Partners would like to invite you to join this educational webinar.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • Why gift cards provide the most return on wellness investments
  • How to retain and encourage employees after initial participation
  • Which wellness activities typically have higher participation rates when incentivized
  • Different incentive programs and models
  • Tax implications of incentives based on the Affordable Care Act
  • The importance of changing up the incentive design – variety is key

Meet the speakers!

corporate rewards program

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

The Quick Start Guide to Corporate Wellness Programs

corporate wellnessCorporate wellness programs are a hot topic amongst corporate HR departments, especially given the incentives available through the newly minted Affordable Care Act rules that can provide discounts to employers and employees for healthy behavior. If you don’t have a corporate wellness plan, it’s time to put one in place. Healthier employees are more productive, and represent less financial risk to your organization.

Here are a few tips to help you get going.

  • How do I start? A great way to kick off your corporate wellness program is to offer optional biometric screenings. Give your employees a baseline to start from. It will be a great motivator in the beginning of the program and give them a milestone to look back on as they continue to improve those readings and live a healthier life.
  • What incentives do I offer? Small incentives can often be as effective as larger ones. Giving spot rewards to help promote a healthy lifestyle to retailers like CVS/pharmacy, Whole Foods Market and GNC are great ways to support employees while celebrating their healthy milestone.
  • What are the financial implications? 80% of an employee’s healthcare costs are incurred in the last 20% of their career timespan. This is a statistic that can be affected by employees who take a proactive stance on employee health. Corporate wellness programs may not totally change this statistic but they can help control corporate costs.

For more information on how to start your corporate wellness program check out this article from Smart Business Online.

corporate wellness

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 Focusing On More Than Just Cost

Wellness ProgramsWellness programs have typically focused on reducing health care costs for employers, but for many this has not been the most satisfying outcome.  Karen Marlo, VP of the National Business Group on Health says, “There has been a lot of this belief that if we implement health care programs, we’ll have tremendous ROI…but many have felt that was an inflated comment'” leading Marlo to ask, “Is ROI the right measure in general for wellness programs?”

Overall there are six metrics that employers use to track how wellness programs are working.  Those metrics include: health and wellness engagement, absenteeism, and job satisfaction.  As wellness programs have evolved, employers have shifted their focus away from just cost and on to other intangibles such as employee productivity and how wellness impacts the company overall.

Employers typically implement wellness programs to reduce health risks, manage or reduce health care costs, and to improve employee productivity.

Employers also see value in wellness programs when it comes to:

  • Managing/reducing disability claims
  • Improving employee job satisfaction
  • Talent attraction/retention
  • Improving employee morale
  • Impacting business performance metrics and profitability

Executives are really looking for employees to make healthier decisions.  Employers are really starting to shift those decisions to focus on employee and family populations and instill confidence in those employees by providing them with the tools they need to make those healthier decisions.

Read more from Employee Benefit News!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Healthy Employees are Good for Business

Every organization strives to have a strong workforce. They are looking for employees who can drive the business, build relationships and advance organizational goals. But creating those strong employees has to go beyond just business and into health and wellness. Ensuring that employees are exercising, eating right, and generally taking care of themselves by using their healthcare benefits will create a stronger workforce, both mentally and physically. Some of the numbers around employee health benefits are staggering. Investing in healthy employees can increase productivity and strengthen your business as a whole

Using health and wellness programs, as outlined in the Public Health Institute’s infographic below, increases productivity by minimizing employee’s time away from work. Focusing programs on preventing avoidable conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol invoke achievable goals for employees. Incentivizing these prevention program with small rewards help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle and are a great way to give your employees a boost, as they give your business a boost.

Download the brief here.

infographic outlining how health prevention leads to healthy employees

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.

CVS/pharmacy Sweetens Valentine’s Day

CVS/pharmacyLove is in the air, or it will be tomorrow. As we prepare for a holiday full of chocolates and roses, CVS/pharmacy has both classic and non-traditional gift options available. With everything from perfumes, photo cards, razors and male grooming equipment on sale, to bonuses for ExtraCare rewards members on certain purchases and purchasing thresholds, it’s easier than ever to make your special one feel special this Valentine’s Day.

While some may view the holiday as hokey and only meant for the love birds, Valentine’s Day can be used as a unique opportunity to show gratitude and appreciation for the employees in your office. Your support staff, your junior level employees, the people in the mail room (heck, even the person who delivers the mail!) are great people to thank on Valentine’s Day.

Simple “Thank You’s,” especially during these dark, cold winter months, can be a great morale boost. Thank you gifts don’t need to be big either. A $10 gift card to retailers like CVS/pharmacy can be a great way to say thanks without breaking the bank, especially with the variety of merchandise on sale. For healthier options that can support new year’s resolutions and employee’s healthy lifestyle the CVS Select® Gift Card can help with the temptation by limiting the merchandise the card can be redeemed for (so skip the chocolate when using this gift card!).

So who do you want or need to thank this Valentines Day? Think beyond the cupid interpretation and show “love” as gratitude to the people who make your business great!

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.

Creative Ways To Incentivize and Reward Healthy Behaviors

Reward Healthy BehaviorsEmployers, together with health insurance plans, continue to look for creative ways to incentivize and reward healthy behaviors. The ultimate goal is to get people on the path to better health or keep them there. Around $25 billion is being spent on incentives, which includes apps, devices, games and more, all devoted to helping people change their longstanding, ingrained bad habits.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is utilizing an app called Nurtisavings to reward members for making healthy supermarket purchases. “What we consume has got so much impact on health and well-being, the supermarket should be part of the overall health care delivery system”, stats Niraj Jetly, COO of Nutrisavings. Nutrisavings scores more than 200,000 foods on a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being the least healthy option (i.e. Soda). The score is totaled upon check out and if your average monthly score is 60 or higher, you earn $10. That’s free money just by making modestly healthy decisions when going to the store, some of which you may already be doing anyway.

Another health insurance company will take $5 off of health insurance deductibles for every 30-minute workout. These workouts are at GPS confirmed gyms or connected through wearable technology such as a Fitbit device. A minimum of 3 workouts per week must be logged.  “By smartly adjusting the deductible based on exercise, we can save a small business tens of thousands of dollars a year in terms of their health costs,” says Pact Health co-founder and CEO Yifan Zhang. Pact Health is the company behind this option.

While the possibility of cheating does exist, setting clear rules and expectations beforehand can help to curb that.  You need to show your employees that you trust them, because the overall outcome is a healthier workforce, more productive employees, reduced absenteeism, and most importantly you are letting your employees know that above all else, you value their health.

Read the full article, along with more details on what incentives may work for your company, here!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

What You Need To Know About The Flu Epidemic

Flu EpidemicEach year the U.S. experiences a flu epidemic.  Right now influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated flu activity.  ILI (influenza-like-illness) has been circulating throughout the country and there have been increased hospitalization rates, especially in the 65 and over population. During influenza seasons, it’s typical for the ILI rate to increase first, then hospitalizations increase.

People who are at higher risk for the flu and complications due to the flu are encouraged to get the flu vaccination.  It’s important that those people also get evaluated as quickly as possible if flu symptoms present themselves.  Antiviral drugs can be used early to treat high-risk patients.

Do you know how many cases of ILI are currently in your state?  This interactive map from Columbia University has all the information you need to know about current flu epidemic conditions, forecasts for the rest of the season, and when you can expect flu season to end.

It’s not too late to protect yourself and your employees throughout flu season with the CVS Flu Shot eGift Card.

Influenza statistics provided by the CDC.  Click here to learn “What You Need to Know About the 2014-2015 Flu Season”.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.