By: Jim Bode – Wellness Consultant
Over the last decade “wellness” has become a buzz word and many companies have adopted wellness programs. The issue with this is that most programs are not put together correctly and thus have little to no real impact. Developing a successful wellness program is not difficult; however, if an organization omits important steps and loses focus the program will not succeed. Most organizations would admit that they would like to have a wellness program and know that there could be a value for implementing one, but do not know where to start or what to do.
The first thing that an organization must do as it looks at developing a strategy is to simplify and define what wellness is to the organization. Wellness is not about a well-attended health fair or a fancy portal or a biometric screening event. Wellness in its most simple form is about behavior change and behavior cannot be changed in a day or at an event. Organizations need to overhaul their culture and make health and wellness a core component and a yearlong objective. The issue with this is that behavior change is actually the hardest thing we ask for anyone to do and so companies need to identify their health issues while at the same time look at their employees readiness to change.
I have been a wellness consultant for many years and I often ask organizations why they provide medical benefits. Most answer that it is to attract and retain superior employees. I often follow up with a question about how long they feel that they will be able to offer competitive benefits at the current trend levels. If this concerns your organization, you should think about taking a more proactive approach to protecting this important benefit. My role, and the role of consultants like me, is to help organizations define wellness as Medical Risk Awareness and Reduction.
Programs need to be built on science which starts with creating a baseline that enables organizations to have an understanding of the medical risk they are facing both now and in the future. Without this type of analysis, an organization cannot be strategic while setting clear goals as it relates to controlling and minimizing these risks.
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