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Investment in Employee Wellness Goes Beyond Health

Investment in employee wellness

A recent study, State of the Industry: Employee Well-being in 2016, from Virgin Pulse, in partnership with Human Capital Media, surveyed over 1,000 HR professionals across a variety of levels and industries to see how they planned to use employee wellness and health programs in 2016. Their findings go beyond the obvious answer we have seen in past years.

The survey indicated that employee wellness programs in 2016 will not simply focus on reducing healthcare costs for employers and employees. Employee wellness has expanded to include financial wellness, and more company-centric motives like employee productivity, promoting organizational culture and employee engagement. The investment in employee wellness is moving from being viewed as a cost-cutting measure and is now used more as a tool for employee engagement.

Here are the key stats from the new study:

  • 60% of HR professionals surveyed are looking to use employee wellness to improve employee engagement
  • 53% are looking to improve productivity through employee wellness
  • 52.8% look to improve and promote organizational culture through employee wellness

One of the major developments in the study, focusing on 2016, is that the initiatives listed above were previously considered “HR Priorities.” They were things HR was focused on but no other business function was held accountable to. In 2016, look for these initiatives to become organizational initiatives, tackled by many areas of your company.

Making an investment in employee wellness began as a way to control rising healthcare costs and to bring healthy living into the workplace. Since its inception, employee wellness has now morphed into a way to transform your company culture, engage employees, and to make your organization a place your entire staff is excited to come to every day. Employee wellness has become a component of employee retention which, along with engagement is another major HR driven organizational initiative going into the new year.

 


Gift cards motivate and build engagement with rewards that people really want. They are a powerful tool to help you achieve the goals set in any type of wellness program.

Select the “Right Brands for the Right Programs”

Find the right reward

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.

Expanding Wellness: Employee Financial Wellness

employee financial wellness

As employee wellness becomes the rule and not the exception there’s an opportunity to have your program rise above the rest. Expanding wellness programs past just medical health and focusing on other aspects of employees’ lives, such as employee financial wellness, that can affect their health through stress and other factors can create a more holistic wellness picture.

Financial education is a component that continues to enhance employee wellness programs across the country. Finances are a common stressor for employees regardless of their age or station and providing financial education and planning to employees can actually make employees healthier.

  • SHRM director of Survey Programs, Evren Esen notes that more than 2/3 of HR professionals cite personal finances as a common factor in employee health
  • Financial Finesse Reports notes that employer health costs go down in concert with a financial wellness program due to stress reduction.
    • Think about one instance where financial wellness and work productivity intersect: When an employee has a car repair bill. If they are financially fit, there’s no major problem. If not, it could promote unexpected absences from work.

So you’re on board with this financial wellness component to your employee wellness program. Where do you start? According to Liz Donaldson of Financial Finesse thinks that the intersection of employee financial wellness and the employer is the right place to begin. Talk retirement planning and counseling with your employees and use that as a gateway to help your employees with their whole financial portfolio.

It can be a fine line between getting too close to employee privacy and private lives and being so helpful that it actually impacts work performance. Find the right balance through employee feedback and give advice that’s helpful but not intrusive. Over time, your organization will strike a balance that benefits your employees and your business.

 

Financial-Stress-on-Wellness

Learn more about the impact financial wellness has on employee health in this FREE white paper download!

 What Impact Does Financial Stress Have on Wellness

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Gift cards motivate and build engagement with rewards that people really want. They are a powerful tool to help you achieve the goals set in any type of wellness program.

Select the “Right Brands for the Right Programs”

Find the right reward

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.

Engagement in Health and Wellness Programs

health and wellness programs

Employers are at all points on the learning curve when it comes to health and wellness programs. However, as employee engagement increases, so does employer health and wellness spending. The average per employee cost for health and wellness programs is up almost $100 over 2014 and the use of screenings and carrot rewards to boost engagement are also increasing.

The decreased use of “stick” disincentives along with the increased use of biometric benchmarking is making health and wellness programs more inviting to employees. According to a recent study of employers offering health and wellness programming in 2015:

  • 72% of respondents plan to offer screenings
  • 70% plan to offer assessments
  • And perhaps most importantly, 54% plan to offer physical activity programs

Engagement is key in health and wellness programs. A program’s success is singularly contingent upon employee participation. Getting employees excited and motivated about health and wellness increases productivity, employee loyalty and the overall success of the program. Increased engagement in health and wellness also provides a mutually beneficial decrease in cost to both employer and employee. Are your employees engaged in your health and wellness program?


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creating successful wellness incentives

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.

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.

Employee Health Keeps Costs Low

Employee Health & WellnessIt’s the time of year for diets, gym membership renewals and for some, delusions of grandeur about a healthier year. The key is to turn that burst of enthusiasm into long-term healthy habits that help employees fall into routines that are here to stay for the long haul.

Healthy employees miss less work, and are more productive, focused and hungrier to move up and improve. So how can we bring good habits to employees that foster healthier, and ultimately stronger, contributors? The answer is simple. Bring the health and wellness initiative into the workplace.

From zumba classes at lunch and yoga happy hours, to health-conscious gift card reward options like CVS/pharmacy and Whole Foods Market for reaching weight loss goals or maintaining those habits, employee health and wellness is a win-win for the entire company.

While employees get healthier, healthcare costs get reduced for both employees and employers. One example of this is at USI insurance. If employees and spouses agreed to annual biometrics screenings, healthcare costs could drop as much as 30%. While some employees can find these screenings invasive, 89% of USI employees enrolled in the program, finding the discount to be worth the tradeoff of the screenings. The impact that the discount has on employees and their family budgets is significant, and they can attribute that financial relief to their employer.

If that’s not enough motivation to keep those new year’s resolutions, then I don’t know what is. For more information on the impact employee health has on your business and it’s staff, check out this article in the Orange County Register.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Healthy Employees are Productive Employees

Employees are in the best shape to work when they are in the best physical shape. Employees with high-risk health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes average 77% more absences than employees without high-risk health conditions. Healthy employees present more continuity in their job and thus more productivity. Check out this infographic on the impact healthy employees can have on organizational productivity. For more information on the correlation between healthy employees and productivity head over to Employee Benefits news.

healthriskimpact










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.

Employer Wellness Program: Disease Management vs. Lifestyle Programs

As wellness programs in the workplace continue to be a popular choice for employers looking to decrease medical costs and increase employee productivity, so do the many moving parts within the program itself. Now that the question of whether or not to have a wellness program has been answered with an overwhelming YES, the focus turns to what exactly the program entails.

Are you trying to encourage employees to eat healthier, get active, or manage stress levels? These entities would fall under lifestyle programs and are being shown to be a more long-term way to save a company money.

For a more “quick cost cuts” option companies are turning to programs that center around disease management. This would involve programs like disease education and encouraging or reminding employers to take medications.

So which should you focus on? Well it’s important that your wellness program is tailored to fit your workforce, offering options to fit individual needs and wants. That, along with the right incentives like gift cards, vacation days or a little in-office competition, is the only surefire way to foster a successful employer wellness program.

This article from The New York Times, Study Raises Questions for Employer Wellness Programs, goes into detail on how savings vary by the types of programs you offer.

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.