Workplace wellness programs — which are incentivized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — are varied in nature and may include everything from blood pressure and cholesterol screenings to participatory groups designed to get employees to maintain a healthy weight or to quit smoking. A recent report by the RAND Corporation found that such programs offer returns of $1.50 for every $1 invested.
Getting a wellness program off the ground needn’t be pricey or cumbersome, says Quan Campbell, president and founder of the Lifewellness Institute in San Diego. Here are her tips for getting started.
Check with your insurer. Increasingly, insurance companies are offering resources and incentives for companies to launch wellness programs, so Campbell recommends asking your broker or company representative for information. Insurers may have program and activity suggestions, promotional materials or other resources to help you get your program off the ground.
Team up with others. Host a wellness day, during which employees from various departments or nearby companies can get a flu shot, blood pressure screening or wellness training. Consider incorporating some friendly competition, Campbell says, with contests for “most miles walked” or healthiest lunch.
Get management involved. When the business owner is leading the walking program, it sends a message to employees that wellness is taken seriously. Encourage senior managers to participate.
Most important: Keep it safe and legally sound. Weight-loss competitions or extreme exercise challenges can be medically risky and may leave you open to liability, Campbell cautions. Familiarize yourself with the rules surrounding participatory programs to ensure that they’re not discriminating against people who are physically unable to take part. Finally, keep in mind that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandates strict confidentiality with regard to any individual’s medical information.
“Be sure to get the guidance you need for your program, whether it’s from your attorney, human resources person or an outside consultant,” Campbell says. “You want to be sure you’re helping your employees stay healthy, but abiding by the regulations, too.”
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