Follow The Leaders: Promote Wellness Programs
Educating employees about wellness benefits is important, but we think the best role benefits advisors can play is to get the word out to business owners. Results from the most recent Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey show that employees already value wellness benefits and that health promotion programs do affect employee behavior.
In fact, 57% of employees polled said they believe wellness benefits are successful in reducing health care costs. Employees also said they benefit more than their employers or insurance providers: 48% of the employees said they are the ones who benefit the most financially from the effects of wellness programs on health care costs.
What should these numbers tell group health advisors and insurers? We think the numbers tell us that the challenge is not a matter of convincing employees that wellness benefits help their health and their pocketbooks. Rather, the challenge is in getting the message across to business owners and encouraging them to be the leaders. When the owner leads the charge, employees will follow.
One of advisors jobs is to explain that wellness programs have changed. When employersespecially owners of smaller businesseshear about workplace wellness benefits, an image of a rusty treadmill and a broken weight machine in a former supply room may come to mind.
Other employers might think of Web sites that offer a few recipes for fruit smoothies. Today, however, theres a new approach to getting the attention of employers and employees: on-site health care screenings. A trained wellness specialist comes to the employees and provides comprehensive, confidential, private, one-on-one consultations. The specialist can look at health indicators such as flexibility, cholesterol and blood pressure, and even look for signs of heart conditions and other serious health risks.
After the screenings, the specialist gives participating employees information about addressing potential health problems and increasing wellness.
Health screenings can have a big effect on employee behavior. When Principal asked the index survey participants about screenings, 75% of the employees who had gone through them said they had responded to the results by changing their lifestyles. Here are the most common changes employees reported: