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Five Best Practices of High-Performing Corporate Wellness Programs: Best Practice 4 – Develop a Culture of Health

July 5, 2013 / Corporate Wellness

biz_commuterCorporations of all sizes are becoming trailblazers in the adoption of wellness programs and are reaping the rewards of higher levels of engagement and productivity. These benefits motivated a white paper, “Five Best Practices of High-Performing Corporate Wellness Programs” (free download: registration required). 

This series draws on a wealth of experience, external research, and Virgin HealthMiles’ robust analysis of client data to outline the key factors within your organization that can drive your employees to enroll in, and stay engaged with, your workplace wellness programs. 

In this post, we outline how establishing a culture of health empowers employees to take control of their own wellbeing, with support from executives and the C-suite.

Companies with high-performing wellness programs have a culture of health that’s embedded in their overall corporate culture. Some go as far as to solidify their commitment in their company’s mission statement.

When your company has a culture of health, it’s much easier to make the case for a robust wellness initiative to both your C-suite and your employees. Rising healthcare costs impact not only the company but also employees, who are often required to pay more out of pocket for health insurance premiums.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745 in 2012, up 4 percent from 2011, with workers paying $4,316 on average toward the cost of their coverage.

Virgin HealthMiles recently conducted an in-depth review of our clients’ programs and found that levels of executive leadership and managerial support for wellness programs were important but that they weren’t in and of themselves a differentiator between higher performing companies and those with less successful results.

Companies that have a proven track record of promoting a culture of health likely incorporate key elements of successful wellness initiatives into their program design, creating dedicated program champions from within the organization. They tend to give employees choice and flexibility in wellness offerings, providing personalized programs to meet their individual needs and interests.

It’s undisputed that healthy behaviors — things like getting enough regular physical activity, a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco — can help prevent chronic disease and reduce healthcare utilization. While many employers encourage employees to participate in wellness programs by explaining that a healthier workforce can decrease costs for all parties involved, some are “putting their money where their mouth is” to increase program participation. They’re offering employees opportunities to earn substantial discounts on their healthcare premiums based on participation in their corporate wellness programs. A culture of health fosters that kind of corporate commitment.

Through programs that support individualized activity tracking by using devices like pedometers, employees can often earn credit for any activities that involve taking steps — walking, running, or even dancing. More importantly, they are empowered to develop long-lasting lifestyle changes that contribute to the development of sustained and motivated wellness champions.

Have an example of how your company has managed to keep you engaged in a workplace wellness program? We encourage you to leave a comment below.

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