Here are five tips to improve the likelihood that employees will use a self-care guide instead of high-tailing it to the doctor or ER:
1. Distribute a guide annually.
You move, and it ends up in a box you never unpack. You use it and then misplace it. You never remember to bring it home from work and your family never has the chance to take advantage of it. Or it just blends into the scenery on your bookshelf.
Distributing a new guide every year is an easy way to send a regular message about the importance of self-care and wise consumerism. It’s a little bit like getting a new toothbrush every time you go to the dentist.
And most self-care guides are updated and medically reviewed annually, so employees have access to the latest and most accurate health information available.
2. Include medical self-care in your newsletter.
Whether your newsletter is online or in-hand, it is really easy to tie-in medical self-care — and a reminder about using the book.
Here’s an example from our latest HealthyLife Newsletter:
With a friendly reminder bar at the bottom: “Many topics like the one of this page are contained in a medical self-care guide … If you have a self-care guide, use it whenever you are unsure about what to do for symptoms and health issues you are experiencing.”
3. Hang posters and flyers.
Here’s one we recently developed.
Do you know what to do? I don’t. True story — I looked it up in my self-care guide just because I was curious.
Make sure you change it up often (every 2-3 weeks) to keep your message fresh! And you don’t have to stop at posters — stick up a fridge magnet in the office kitchen, pass out postcards, or send a regular self-care email.
4. Host a workshop.
Help employees make better use of their self-care guide, and they’ll be more likely to use it. It may seem self-explanatory, but the density of information, the flow-chart format and the variety of recommendations for action — what’s the difference between “See a doctor” and “Call a doctor”? — can be intimidating for some. Do an in-person lunch-and-learn, conduct a webinar, or distribute a how-to video.
5. Remember that promotion is a process, not a one-time event.
Don’t make the mistake of doing one self-care quiz with a cash incentive and calling it a day. It’s an ongoing effort. The good news is that the more people use their self-care guides,
- The more you will save on health care costs.
- The higher your return on invesment.
- The healthier your employees will be.
So don’t be daunted! Jump in!
How do you promote your self-care program to your employees?
Are you ready to bring wellness to the table?
1. Show some numbers.
Do your research and get some data together that supports the cost savings of wellness programs. Our data tends to show an ROI of about $3 for every $1 invested in a program, but recent data suggests that as health care costs escalate, those returns could climb even higher. A self-care program alone can help employees reduce costly doctor and ER visits (averaging over $200 / $700 per visit, respectively) — a significant relief to your health care costs.
Start with this Harvard Business Review study on the hard return of employee wellness programs — some of the most recent and comprehensive hard financial data available. (Harvard shows a $6 to $1 ROI for wellness programs, by the way.)
And our Medical Self-Care Savings white paper shares in-depth results of several independent studies on our self-care guides.
2. Emphasize strategy.
Your company has short-term and long-term strategic priorities in place, as well as core values that guide decisions at the executive level. Do you know what those priorities and core values are?
If not, it’s worth finding out. Why?
Because wellness can be a business strategy. Just ask our friends at the LinkedIn group Wellness is a Business Strategy.
How can a wellness program help your business meet its strategic goals? How does wellness reflect your organization’s values? Answer those questions and you are well on your way to success at the executive table.
3. Find a champion.
Odds are there is at least one person in your organization’s upper ranks who already values wellness. You know the type: hits the gym during lunch, sits on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair, uses the office microwave to steam veggies for lunch, just got back from a yoga retreat, has an enviously healthy snack stash, or bikes to work.
That’s a partnership you can’t pass up. Talk to that person about your interest in starting a wellness and see if (s)he’s on board. Find an advocate for wellness on the executive level, and you’ll have someone to persuade fellow members of the c-suite to get behind your plan. It’s like having a seat at the table.
4. Start small.
Maybe you’ve been dreaming about a wellness program with all the bells and whistles: mobile biometric screening trucks, expensive incentives, a full-fledged fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment and flat-screen TVs, a huge online portal with an exhaustive library of information.
A wellness manager can dream, right? But if you know that your budget is the primary eyebrow-raiser for upper management, don’t despair. An effective, comprehensive wellness program can cost as little as $15 or $20 per employee.
The basics of a low-budget wellness program might include:
- Health risk assessment to determine population risks
- Self-care book
- Telephonic health coaching for lifestyle change programs like weight loss and smoking cessation
- Monthly wellness newsletter
- Online resources: A learning center, e-book, customized nutrition plan, or wellness challenge
- Promotional materials
- Supplemental health education materials (brochures, self-care kits, screening magnets)
We have loads more ideas for promoting wellness on a shoestring budget here.
5. Pilot your program.
If your executive team is still skeptical, consider piloting a program to a sample population. Keep it simple and low-cost, give it 9 months to produce results, and then do a thorough evaluation on how much you spent vs. how much you saved. You can offer a limited sign-up phase for interested employees and then do a random lottery if you have too many registrants.
If your program was successful — if it improved health, reduced costs, and met your goals and the goals of your organization — you’ll have a much easier time convincing upper management to support a company-wide wellness program.
By Ginny (ginger chicken Uploaded by Partyzan_XXI) via Wikimedia Commons
At AIPM, we know that a healthy diet is a huge component of overall health and well-being. We’re also a small business. Our office kitchen does quadruple-duty as a coat room, a stock closet, and a copy center. Making it easier for employees to eat well during the work day is a topic that’s close to our hearts.
So yesterday, we were excited to discuss Cooking & Company (a project of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution) and other experiments for better food at work.
The gist? What if companies offer their employees:
- Take-home kits for fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals, with fully prepped ingredients and a recipe — e.g., vegetable fajitas?
- Cooking classes, led by local chefs or personal cooking consultants?
- “Pop-up” community cooking events, like a singles night, wine tasting, or make-your-own-omelet breakfast stations?
- A communal kitchen/cooking space at the office where employees can cook and eat together?
Are you thinking: Do we have the space? Who has a budget for this stuff? Will my boss sign-off? Fire hazards?
Yeah, we were thinking that too. But go ahead and download the free toolkit, and read it with an open mind. It includes plenty of flexible planning ideas to help you scale. Maybe you can:
- Take advantage of a cooking class at an off-site community center?
- Use designated employee break time (lunch seems natural)?
- Instead of paying for a full-flight cooking program (or total office kitchen rehab!), subsidize take-home meal kits to offer to employees at an affordable price?
It was helpful for me to realize that this is about more than offering healthy options for your employees.
It’s about engagement.
Not just watching a cooking demonstration: actual, hands-on cooking. Not just grabbing the least-unhealthy option in the vending machine: actively preparing a healthy meal with your co-workers, and building skills that employees can bring home to their families.
What do you think? How do you handle food at work? Would any of these Cooking & Company experiments work at your workplace? What have you tried to help employees make healthy, nutritious choices?
- Young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old
- It’s easier and less expensive to buy insurance through the exchange if employer does not offer insurance coverage
Some consulting firms estimate that 7.5 million adults age 19-26 have or will gain insurance through HCR.
But it remains to be seen if young people will:
- Use insurance for regular preventive care
- Develop a relationship with a primary care physician or use pharmacy clinics or walk-in urgent care instead
- Practice wise health care consumerism — since about a third of them have been uninsured since they graduated from college
If your wellness program doesn’t currently serve the needs of your younger employees — or if you’re not sure whether or not it does — this is a great opportunity to get them involved, educated, and more engaged in their health.
But why? Aren’t they pretty much healthy, anyway?
1. Yes, but they still have health risks
Young people are healthier on average than your older employees and less likely to suffer from high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
But there’s still plenty of room for improvement — and you have a unique opportunity to stop bad habits and health problems before they become damaging and costly. Problems like:
- Heavy drinking
- Stress management
- Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues
- Weight management
- Sedentary habits
I can think of a dozen other examples and I bet you can too. Are they educated about nutrition and smart grocery shopping or do they subsist on frozen pizza and take-out? Do they protect their skin from sun damage or hit the tanning bed regularly? Do they buckle their seat belt when driving or wear a helmet when riding their bicycle?
2. You can manage the spectrum
In general, health risks flow from low to high. So do health care costs.
Low-risk employees, as younger employees tend to be, won’t stay low-risk forever.
- As many as 10-20% of low-risk employees will move to a higher risk category in a year
- The best worksite wellness programs address both high-risk and low-risk employees
Make it a strategic priority to keep healthy people healthy.
3. Include young employees in your wellness efforts
The best way to get young employees involved in workplace wellness efforts might be just inviting them to be involved.
Do your young employees have a seat at the table?
- Do you have a young employee on your wellness committee?
- Do you take their opinions and suggestions seriously?
What do they want in a wellness program?
- Yoga classes? Healthier cafeteria food? A smartphone app instead of a self-care book?
- Longer breaks so they can go to the gym? Bike racks?
- Clearer and more accessible information about how their insurance plan works and what it covers? (This is a big one, especially for the first-time insured)
- What incentives would make them more likely to participate?
How’s your current program working for them?
- Do they use it?
- What do they like? What do they dislike? What did they not even know you offered?
- Don’t make assumptions: Just because you offer new technology channels or social networking features doesn’t mean your younger employees are using it.
You won’t know unless you ask. Send out a survey, recruit a young employee wellness summit, or just drop by to chat.
Once you have a program in place, don’t forget to check in periodically and ask how your program is going and how it can be improved!
An employee wellness program is only as effective as it is engaging. Getting employees to actually participate within your wellness program is the first step you’ll need to take towards fostering a healthier workplace atmosphere overall. Here are five ways that you can move towards employee engagement and a successful wellness program.
1. Create Reasonable Goals
Not everyone is going to be able to lose 20 pounds by summer, but everyone can take a walk for five minutes a day. Creating reasonable goals will encourage your employees and make them feel more confident and in charge of their health.
2. Get Your Management on Board
A wellness program that is supported by upper management will be more effective overall. A company’s culture is always driven by those on top. Upper management can also get excited about being a positive role model for their employees.
3. Create a Supportive Culture
Training for a marathon is going to be a lot harder with a bunch of unhealthy snacks cluttering up the break room. When you diet on your own, you need to remove all temptation. The same goes for an employee wellness program. Promoting health throughout the office is a good way to ensure that the system works.
4. Use Incentives Appropriately
While it may seem a little direct, bribery works. Creating rewards and prizes for those that commit to your wellness program is a fantastic way to get more employees involved. The prizes can be as simple as a plaque on the wall or as involved as a day of paid time off. Prizes don’t have to be expensive to make it fun.
5. Listen to Advice
Often, there may be a direct and simple reason why employees aren’t engaged in your existing wellness program. Listening to suggestions and even actively seeking them out can be the best way to discover the incentives that will work and the reasons why the existing system is faltering. Keeping an open mind about employee suggestions can often lead you down avenues you never considered.
When engaging employees in a wellness program it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t only health. A wellness program is also designed to get employees to work together and foster a sense of teamwork.
The average smoker costs an additional $4,260 per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity according to the CDC. In an effort to reduce tobacco use and the additional costs related to tobacco use, many insurance companies and employers implement a surcharge to users of tobacco.
What is a surcharge?
A tobacco surcharge is an increase in the premium amount paid by users of tobacco. The surcharge can also be referred to as a tobacco premium or premium differential.
How much is the surcharge?
Current federal law allows health insurance plans and companies to charge tobacco users an additional 20%.
Beginning January 1, 2014 health insurance plans and employers will be able to charge up to 50% more.
Will every state implement a surcharge?
Some states have made it illegal for insurance companies to implement a surcharge. Those states include: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C. Employers in these states may still opt to implement a surcharge.
Who is considered to be a “tobacco user?”
A tobacco user is defined as anyone who uses any tobacco product including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, pipe tobacco, or hookah, four times per week for the last six months.
What else do I need to know?
Health insurance plans and employers who implement a surcharge are required to offer a reasonable alternative for tobacco users. If a tobacco user participates in the reasonable alternative program, they will not have to pay the surcharge. In this case a reasonable alternative is a comprehensive tobacco cessation program.
What should I look for in a tobacco cessation program?
The ultimate goal of the surcharge is to alleviate the country of one of its largest public health concerns. The program you offer is of the utmost importance. You should look for a program from a trusted provider with a long history of success and flexible program options. The program should provide:
1) Structure and a proven methodology for quitting.
2) Telephonic or in-person counseling
3) Nicotine replacement therapy, either over the counter (patch or gum) or prescription.
The Smokeless® program has helped over 1 million people quit, and stay tobacco free, using the comprehensive approach recommended by the American Lung Association. Learn more about the smokeless program by clicking here.
Wee all know that health care costs have risen at rates beyond comprehension. We constantly hear numbers thrown around as to what health care is costing, but it’s impossible to imagine what a billion dollars really looks like. Let’s take a look at the increase from another angle, possibly making it easier to digest …
If food prices had risen at medical inflation rates since the 1930’s:
|1 dozen eggs
|1 pound apples
|1 pound sugar
|1 roll toilet tissue
|1 dozen oranges
|1 pound butter
|1 pound bananas
|1 pound bacon
|1 pound beef shoulder
|1 pound of coffee
|10 item total
Source: American Institute for Preventive Medicine, 2013
American Institute for Preventive Medicine developed a very handy guide called “Wellness On a Shoestring: Over 350 No or Low Cost Activities and Resources to Enhance your Wellness Program.” They offer it for $34 on the website, which at that price is a steal. But, they’ve taken 10 of the activities and offer them in this free toolkit. Go ahead, download it and share the link with all your friends! Download the toolkit here!