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Building Participation and ROI in an Employee Wellness Program

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, November 19, 2012

By a second program deadline, November 1, employees had to have taken two steps or pay a penalty of $55 per month. The first step was to complete a wellness visit, carried over from July if they hadn't done so already. The second step: Know their numbers—height, weight, blood pressure—or show they had thought about these numbers in an online assessment.

Also by this deadline, employees had to earn 300 points via "health challenges." The challenges included taking a pledge to be tobacco-free or taking a tobacco-cessation readiness quiz, seeing a dentist, and getting a flu shot.

"I think the way we designed the program, the steps were meant to be easy and reasonable," says LeBlanc. "It's not like we were asking people to go nuts and all of a sudden have a healthy BMI."

As of November 1, engagement had jumped to 93.5%, which allowed Swedish to reduce its healthcare spending growth rate from 9% to 6.5%.

"We felt like this was not only a win for Swedish but for labor management, because we discuss cost of healthcare so often year after year," LeBlanc says. "This is something we really came together on, and in terms of discussing benefits, this was a victory we could really stand on that our program was working."

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