Companies promote employees' healthy living

Companies promote employees' healthy living

Incentives help staff members shape up, stop smoking, and control their weight.
Jul 21, 2008
By staff

Oh no! Dave's called in sick again, and now your clinic's short-handed. That's the second time this week you're understaffed—and it's only Monday. Today's clients will suffer for it, and you'll see reduced productivity. Absenteeism, sick days, and sluggish on-the-job performance are sometimes the result of employees' poor lifestyle choices. If you're sluggish these days for the same reason, you can relate. Well, more companies nationwide are offering financial incentives so employees will better manage their health. That's the finding from a May 2008 survey of 453 companies by consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the nonprofit National Business Group on Health. The following percentages of companies are offering incentives to employees participating in health programs and activities:

> 53%: Full coverage of preventive services
> 53%: Completion of health risk appraisal
> 42%: Participation in health improvement or disease management program
> 40%: Participation in smoking cessation program
> 31%: Participation in weight management program
> 21%: Management of cholesterol level or blood pressure
> 12%: Completion of consumer education class
> 7%: Maintaining a personal health record

Also, the type of incentives makes a difference. Companies that offered reduced premiums or healthcare deductibles for participation in health programs have better compliance rates than those that offered cash or nothing at all. Seventy-three percent of companies that offered discount on medical deductibles and 67 percent that offered discounts on medical premiums had at least half of their workforces completing health risk appraisals compared to just 17 percent of companies that offered cash and 12 percent that offered no incentives.

If you like the idea of starting a wellness program for employees at your clinic, think about what it would entail and whether you'll offer bonuses, discounts on health insurance, or pats on the back. And be sure you don't discriminate against those who choose not to participate in the programs or can't because of health reasons.

For tips on employee benefits and getting fit yourself, see the Related Links below.