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Healthy Workplace Programs Reduce Obesity

Healthy Workplace Programs

A recent study, led by an associate professor at the University of Rochester, finds that providing healthy workplace programs reduced the number of overweight or obese employees by almost 9%. The study was based on two years of research, studying almost 3,800 employees. The researchers instituted workplace programs to promote healthy eating and exercise at half of the work sites and no healthy programs at the other half.

The test group that had implemented healthy workplace programs promoted things such as revamped cafeteria offerings with fewer calories and smaller portions, free meals to those who made healthy food choices, workshops to share healthy recipes, walking clubs, upgraded gym facilities, and group activities.

Workplaces are great environments to modify food options and provide physical activity having the potential to reach a large number of adults. “This study shows in particular that when employees are empowered to help shape wellness programs, these programs appear to result in meaningful improvements to health” said Diana Fernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., lead author of the study.

The study tracked the workers’ BMI at the beginning and end of the two-year program. The number of workers considered overweight or obese increased by 5% over the group that did not offer healthy programs in the workplace. While the test group that had healthy programs decreased those considered overweight or obese by 4% — a net difference of 9%.

The full article can be read here at Incentive Magazine. The full study can be downloaded for a fee at The American Public Health Association.

creating successful wellness incentives

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.

Incentives in Wellness Programs Continue to Grow

incentives-in-wellness-programs

The use of incentives in wellness programs continues to increase, rising to 87% this year, up from 77% two years ago. According to Optum’s Fifth Annual Wellness in the Workplace Study, 90% of large employers now offer incentives. It comes as no surprise with employers seeing an increased urgency for results in employee engagement.

The Workplace Study is based on 545 employers that offer wellness programs of one kind or another. 60% of employers participating in the survey have at least 3,000 employees, 20% having between 100 and 2,999, and 20% have fewer than 100.

Here are some of the major highlights of the study:

  • 64% of large employers offer incentives to employee family members
  • 79% of wellness programs feature biometric screening, health challengers, health assessments, and smoking cessation
  • Between 50% and 66% of employers provide incentives for wellness coaching, health websites, disease management, and healthy pregnancy programs
  • 38% of employers contribute to HSAs, HRAs or HIAs
  • 34% of employers reduce health care premiums
  • 29% of employers offer gift cards
  • 16% of employers offer cash incentives
  • 57% of employers offer incentives for employees to complete a wellness program

Employee physical health is the most dominant focus of wellness programs, but an interesting 64% targeted on mental health, 35% on financial health, and 31% on social health.

Check out all the details of the Wellness in the Workplace Study by Optum Resource Center for Health & Wellness 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Growing Workplace Wellness with Digital Health Tools

Digital Health Tools Are a Growing Part of Workplace Wellness Programs article, iHealth Beat

Workplace wellness continues to thrive.  Currently more than 90% of employers with at least 200 workers have some type of workplace wellness program in place.  Employers see unhealthy habits, i.e. smoking, poor nutrition, and alcohol consumption, as major contributors to higher health care costs for employers;  21% of the total national health care spending is due to obesity alone.  For employers there is also a cost due to lost productivity, overweight and obese workers miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared to healthy workers – an estimated $153 billion dollars just in lost productivity!

So let’s go viral. Digital wellness tools allow employers to more efficiently track and support their employees’ progress towards their health and wellness goals.  As more behaviors become monitored, it’s possible to gain a better sense of an employees health fingerprint and influence people’s behavior in real-time.  Wearable devices can track physical activity, calorie intake, and sleep and mobile apps and software that can remind employees to get up and take exercise breaks are piquing employers interests.  Employees typically appreciate these programs, 93% of consumers participating in healthy eating say they or their family were helped, 85% said fitness activity were useful and 83% benefited from stress management programs.

While digital solutions are useful and allow for many features that were not possible in the past, do not rely too heavily on just digital solutions alone.  Digital can be more efficient, but not necessarily better, it really depends on what exactly a company is trying to achieve.  Digital health solutions will continue to grow, and there will be many more innovations seen over the next 5 or so years, which will benefit both the health care system and workplace wellness programs.

Learn more tips for your employee wellness programs at iHealthBeat!

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.

Ten More Tips for a Successful Wellness Program

We can’t say it enough, a successful wellness program can benefit both employees and companies in drastic ways. With reduced healthcare costs for both employee and company, more productivity at work, and less absenteeism, workplace wellness has been shown time and time again to be a smart investment in a time of rising healthcare costs.

Here are 10 more tips for implementing a successful wellness program:

1. Understanding your workforce: Reviewing items such as prior health insurance claims, health assessments, and employee surveys can help you to understand what concerns your employees have with their health.

2. Create a plan: All programs should have some kind of plan in place, start by developing a plan with both short and long term goals, along with a budget and expected outcomes.

3. Include everyone: Make the plan available to all employees and their spouses/domestic partners.

4. Offer biometric screenings: Many employees do not know the current status of their health. Offering screenings during work time or during company health fairs allow more employees to participate in screenings.

5. Select wellness leaders: Set up a wellness committee with wellness leaders to help drive wellness programs. Choose highly respected employees.

6. Communication: Communicate your wellness program as much as possible with things like, company emails, flyers, and in-person meetings.  Employees can only participate if they know the details.

7. Offer incentives: Gift cards, reduced premiums, cash bonuses and discounts on various health and wellness based incentives (i.e. gym memberships) will significantly increase employee participation.

8. Provide employees with digital tools: Online, mobile, and tablet updates can help employees keep track of their health and healthcare costs.

9. Track results: Assess your wellness program on an annual basis. Assess both the costs benefits with your healthcare provider as well as evaluating employee participation.

10. Solicit Feedback: Remain flexible and listen to your employees. Your employees are your foundation for a solid wellness plan.

Following these tips can help maximize your employer sponsored wellness program.  Thanks to Southern Florida UnitedHealthcare President Nicholas Zaffiris for the tips.

Both the CVS/pharmacy and Whole Foods Market gift cards make perfect incentives for your employee wellness program. Learn more about our corporate gift cards 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.

Inside the World of Corporate Wellness

inside corporate wellnessCorporate wellness programs have become popular in recent years. Simply put, corporate wellness is any health initiative or program within a company that focuses on promoting good health and employee comfort, rather than dealing with poor health and low morale at a later date.

It should come as no surprise that most of the companies on the top 100 companies to work for list, year after year, offer corporate wellness programs. Companies that offer corporate wellness programs are striving, and people enjoy working for them. Not only do companies that offer such programs have happier staff, but they end up doing better financially.  Research shows that for every $1 spent on corporate wellness, a company saves $4 in sick time, health costs and overall work productivity.

Top Corporate Wellness Programs 

Google is regularly on the top 100 companies to work for list. In fact, it has topped the list for several years. It makes sense then, that Google also has one of the most comprehensive wellness programs in the industry. The company offers on-site gyms, healthy eating options in the dining area, fully paid sabbaticals, volunteer opportunities, and health classes and screenings. SAS, a software developer, comes in at number two on the list. The company offers their employees on-site child care and fitness centers, a multitude of medical staff on-site, reimbursed gym memberships, healthy eating options and dietician services. With compressed workweeks, job sharing, 100% health coverage and paid sabbaticals, The Boston Consulting Group comes in at number three on the top companies to work for list. While these three companies are worlds apart in many ways, they share one common factor; solid wellness programs that ensure their staff is working to the best of their abilities.

Creating a Wellness Program 

It is understandable that not all companies are going to be able to offer the same perks as Google. Google is a behemoth in the business world, with untold amounts of money to spare. Smaller companies, clearly, will be unable to procure the “campus-style” structure of Google, nor will they be able to offer the round-the-clock day care services that SAS gives to their workers, but every company can instill a wellness program that is sure to raise productivity and boost morale. To begin a wellness program a company must work to better understand their internal culture. Once the internal culture is understood, a better understanding of what the employees need out of a wellness program will arise. Before you begin a wellness program ask these questions;

  • What do my employees really need out of a wellness plan?
  • What is the corporate culture in my office?
  • What incentive will work best for my employees to get healthy?
  • How can a wellness program best benefit the employees and employer collaboratively?

Once you’ve answered those questions you can begin working out a wellness plan that will work best for your company and your employees. For example, if you can not offer a gym on-site, because you simply don’t have the sprawling campuses that large corporations do, then consider offering gym reimbursement options. Employees who are reimbursed for this expense are more likely to utilize it. If you can’t offer on-call medical staff, consider offering regular screenings at different parts of the year. For example, after the summer offer a skin cancer screening. Prior to the winter months offer a cardiovascular health screening.

Using Gift Cards in Your Wellness Program 

Gift cards can also be used in wellness programs. Gift cards are an easy way for companies that do not have the space, nor resources to allocate to wellness programs to get more involved in the health and wellness of their employees. Gift cards can be used in lieu of a company dining experience. If employees are offered gift cards to healthy eating options they are more likely to use those options, than to stop by a fast food location on their lunch hour. Alternatively, gift cards can be used as incentives for employees to get healthy and be rewarded for it. Gift cards can also be given for pharmacies and other health outfitters that will help your employees get on a healthier track.

The Bottom Line

While not all companies have the space, time or monetary resources, to institute an all-inclusive wellness program, there are plenty of ways to get a wellness program started, even in a small company. In the end, wellness programs are shown to actually save companies money, boost morale and raise productivity. Every company, both large and small can stand to have revenue saved, morale boosted and productivity raised. In the end, it is a win-win situation.










Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.