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SEBINS Blog: Wellness Mistakes
SEBINS Blog: 6 Most Commonly Made Mistakes with Wellness Programs

You don’t have to be a company executive to know that healthcare costs are rising at unsustainable rates. According to a 2013 Kaiser/HRET survey, health insurance premiums have risen 80 percent in the last 10 years!

Today more than 80 percent of employers with 50 or more employees, offer wellness programs and more than two-thirds offer financial incentives to employees who get health screenings, or take lifestyles or disease management steps to maintain and improve their health. The logic seems flawless: if workers enroll in a wellness program, they’ll become healthier and thus perform more effectively on the job.

Now there’s just one problem. Most employers believe their wellness programs don’t work!

So what can you learn from the mistakes other employers make with their wellness programs? 

Let’s take a look at six mistakes commonly made and how you can prevent yourself from making these same mistakes

1.     Imposing Goals on Employees Rather than Empowering them to Set Their Own Goals

Every employee is unique. Yet most wellness programs present cookie-cutter program goals that may not tailor or attract much of the employee population. Making the goals be out of reach or unwelcome. Effective wellness programs, ask employees what they want to accomplish, and encourage them to set their own goals and design their own health and wellness pathway.

2.     Offer Goal-Based Incentive Programs Without Guidance.

People usually know what needs to be done in order to achieve great health, whether it is losing weight, getting more active, or reducing stress. What is missing is the HOW TO. Most wellness programs are missing the guidance on how to reach personal health goals with their employees. The key to help employees achieve their goals is to incentivize both, activity and achievement. Celebrate the small steps that need to be taken to achieve the big goal. Coaching through motivation and positive reinforcement along the way will help employees reach their goals.

3.     Self-Reporting vs. Verifiable Actions

In order to truly support employees in achieving their goals, companies can’t simply rely on self-reported data, which can give an inaccurate picture of employee activity. Most wellness programs only credit employees for signing up for a gym membership or a 5k run, rather than verifying and rewarding their workouts and the steps they are taking toward better health. Effective wellness programs rely on data that is 100-percent verifiable and automatically updated, leaving nothing to chance.

4.     Overlooking the Influence of Family

The health behaviors of family members can either stimulate bad habits and shortcuts or encourage good intentions. Yet many wellness programs do not incorporate families and thereby neglect a crucial component of success for many employees. By integrating family participation, it will allow employees to be focused on health goals in and out of work sites.

5.     Analyzing How the Program is Being Used Rather than How it Is Working

Many wellness programs have failed to demonstrate that they do in fact work. Few report what metrics they are targeting and what success factors they are measuring that clearly indicate a benefit to the employer and employee. Even fewer have conducted multi-year studies to show how they impact health and healthcare costs. By contrast, effective wellness programs both promise and prove that they get results.

6.     Not Benchmarking Themselves in Order To Create A Strategy Based on Company Priorities.

Most companies go straight to the perceived solution- an off-the-shelf wellness program-without knowing where their employees stand in terms of health and wellness and what areas they need to prioritize in order to achieve strategic goals. By failing to benchmark their employees and determining which needles they’re trying to move, they miss out on the opportunity to craft a program designed for their unique situation and culture.

The first step to having a successful Wellness Program is to first identify areas that need some reconstructive work. By identifying these areas, employers can have a clear and concise picture of what their program should look like and work towards having a program that will be beneficial to both, employers and employees.


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