How to Create a Wellness Program at Work
By Debra Kabalkin, SPHR, HR Business Partner

How to Create a Wellness Program at WorkAre you concerned about your employees' physical and mental health? Of course you are! Have you created a wellness program? Ok, maybe not quite yet. I know, starting a new program can be challenging and seem like a lot of work initially. There's the chance that the program can fizzle if you don't stick to it, you may not have buy-in, and more importantly where on earth do you find the time to get started? But I'm here to help you on this one, so let's talk about it...

Where we are today

The reality is that obesity, stress and smoking are huge setbacks in having a healthy, sustainable and productive workforce today. Known to cause overall poor health, obesity and smoking are the top two causes of preventable death in the United States. Employees suffering from these conditions have demonstrated lost productivity estimated to be $39.3 million per year and increased healthcare costs.1 Research has also shown that employers discriminate against these workers, with obese women earning an average 6.2% less than their counterparts who have a healthy weight.2 Now let's look at tobacco use — employers that hire smokers bear indirect costs, including more employee absenteeism, productivity losses ($92 billion) and increased early retirement due to smoking-related illness.3 And stress, stress does not do a body good! In fact, 51% of employees said they were less productive at work as a result of stress and job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity and medical, legal and insurance costs.4

Why create change

If those eye-awakening stats aren't enough, let me share some benefits that will hopefully inspire you to create a change. Beginning in January 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, there will be increased incentives offered to companies that have wellness programs in place (30% for wellness programs and up to 50% for smoking cessation programs). Additionally, employers will see a reduction in overall healthcare costs, decreased rates of illness and injuries, reduced absenteeism, and an improvement in overall morale and productivity creating a thriving culture of wellness. For instance, Johnson & Johnson leaders estimate that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.5

How to Implement

If you decide to make the commitment to start a program, make sure it becomes a part of the culture and is embraced by the entire team—and stick to it! Be clear about your objectives; know what you want to see happen as a result of your efforts. Successful programs are often run by a committee that works with key groups at your organization to sell ideas and gain support. Recognize that every organization is different and everyone's needs vary as well. Some people may want gym reimbursements while others may want a peer support group or training seminars. Your benefit broker can be a great resource on helping you to implement wellness offerings available through your insurance providers such as Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealthcare, and Anthem. They can enhance your program with essential components such as fitness training, nutrition counseling, smoking cessation solutions, etc. A recent Gallup survey recommends that employers create effective and easy interventions, such as offering safe exercise space and developing healthy food programs that will ensure access to all employees.6 Poll your employees to understand what will work long term for them and the company as a whole and most importantly, make sure you are considerate about how individual employees may react towards the push for a healthier lifestyle change. After all, the goal is to make this both a positive and productive program.

Make it stick!

On the topic of making it positive and productive, don't forget to reward the changed behavior and make it fun for your whole team! Studies indicate that at least 75% of all companies that implement a wellness program use some sort of reward to drive participation and success.2 To further motivate your employees, try a friendly competition to leverage teamwork such as a "biggest loser competition" or a healthy cook-off and treat the winner(s) to a healthy catered lunch. Another fun camaraderie activity is a walking program where you could track miles and reward employees with a new pair of running shoes or custom pedometers. Decreased premiums, monetary bonuses, or thoughtful gifts, whatever you do, the rewards for improved health and wellness for your employees and the increased productivity should be a win-win for all.

1Get America Fit Foundation Obesity Related Statistics in America
2Huffington Post: America's Most Obese Workers: Jobs With The Heaviest Employees
3CareerBuilder: Smokers drag down a workplace, study says
4American Psychological Association Practice Organization
5Harvard Business Review: What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?
6Power2Motivate Creating Effective Workplace Wellness Programs

Jobs of the Month

Jobs of the Month

Our Recruiting Division is highlighting the following opportunities: Solutions Architect — Reston, VA
The successful candidate is a highly motivated and capable professional who will lead solution architecture efforts on client engagements. Reporting to an Engagement Manager, the Solutions Architect is responsible for engaging with clients to define requirements and design a comprehensive solution based on the platform and related technologies. Bachelor's degree, 3+ years related work experience, and experience designing solutions for the platform is required. Engagement Manager — Reston, VA
The Engagement Manager is financially and operationally responsible for a portfolio of engagements. In this role the Engagement Manager manages the staff, delivery timing, solution quality, expected financials, and the customer satisfaction. The selected candidate will act as the primary relationship-builder in the context of projects and will provide insight and leadership regarding key project deliverables. Working in collaboration with an account manager, the selected candidate will help to create a vision for the customer as to where they could go and how to get there. Bachelor's Degree and a minimum of 2 years of project management experience.

Manager, Inventory Purchasing and Manufacturing — Fairfax, VA
This position is responsible for managing the day-to-day purchasing and inventory control functions for the Direct Response and Retail sales channels. The selected candidate will work with Product Marketing and Sales teams to ensure just-in-time availability of ongoing product fulfillment. Bachelor's degree and minimum of 3-5 years business management experience is required.

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Issue 67 | July 2013
CEO Spotlight

Direct Holdings Global

Direct Holdings Global, most notably associated with the success of the Time Life brand, is a multi-channel marketer, distributor, and leader in entertainment and lifestyle direct-to-consumer marketing. In this interview, President Chris Hearing shares how they foster an environment that encourages trust and innovation. Read the full story here >

Current Events

SmartCEO Brava! Awards — July 31 SmartCEO's program celebrates top female CEOs who combine their irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community. These female CEOs have become exemplary leaders in their companies and the community at large by encouraging local philanthropy, mentoring fellow CEOs and setting their companies on the path to tremendous growth.

Apollo Workshop — August 21 Join Helios and Capital One for a follow-up workshop focused on how to create high impact employee development and community service programs in your business. Panelists will include Denise Crute, Director of Training at IQ Solutions and Jeff Gallimore, Co-Founder and Partner at Excella Consulting. All proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

Fairfax Chamber Char-a-oke (Charity Karaoke) — August 29 The annual fundraiser for the Education Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools brings together some of the region's most prominent businesses and executives who let their hair down and belt out their best karaoke tunes to raise money for our schools. This year the event will be held on Thursday, August 29th at The Barns at Wolf Trap.

Giving Back

Giving Back
Many families in our neighborhoods are unable to afford backpacks, school supplies, or other essential items to help their children be fully prepared to start school. Helios is collecting backpacks for school-age children at our office in Reston, VA between now and August 9th. If you would like to participate in the drive, please contact us at 703-860-3882 x102.