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Blog By: Jeanne Hines, SPHR

Few days go by when we don’t hear about the rising cost of health insurance.    We blame the health care system and we blame the insurance companies.  Some of the pharmaceutical company ads even blame our heredity.  We rarely look at ourselves and question whether we are doing everything we can to be healthy and reduce the need for extensive (and often costly) health care.

There are several factors that contribute to increasing costs.  While claims are only one of these factors, they are a significant contributor.  There is only one real way to reduce health care costs.  Can you guess what it is?  If you guessed “healthier employees,” you’re correct!  If companies are able to effect a change in the health of their employees, they will reap bigger benefits than only what they pay for health insurance.  Healthier employees generally exhibit more job satisfaction and are more productive than their unhealthy counterparts.

If you’re like a lot of employers, you may be wondering what kinds of things will bring the best results.  The Gallup model showed us five basic needs which, when satisfied, maximize our well-being:  social, financial, physical, community, and career.  They are referred to as “the currency of a life that matters.”  All of these areas were covered in blogs during 2012.  (For more information, please consult our blog archive.) While all areas must be addressed to achieve maximum well-being, today’s focus is on workplace programs designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The focus of a workforce health promotion program can vary due to many factors, including type of organization, workforce diversity, resources, and leadership support.  Program design provides an opportunity to plan a program and position it within the organization's overall mission. This increases the potential that program objectives will be realized, such as improving employee health and productivity and reducing medical care expenses for the employer and employee.

Many successful programs start with the basics and then grow over time.  One good place to start is with the WA Insurance Benefits staff.  We are happy to help you with a wellness initiative in your company, utilizing our proprietary program, Wellness Approach, or by providing a referral to other kinds of programs available in our area.

It’s important to make participation a positive and rewarding experience.  “Positive” often comes in the form of the satisfaction of the participants with their results.  Rewards should vary, depending on the expected results and financial commitment the company is able to make. 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see significant results after just one year.  Studies have shown that it generally takes about three years before a return on your investment becomes evident.  By including metrics in the evaluation of your program, you will be able to see the impact grow as the program becomes your new normal and more people participate.

Good health doesn’t choose us; we must choose it and work towards improving it every day.
Posted 4:36 PM

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