Corporate Health and Wellness: Current state of affairs
When we think about Corporate Health and Wellness solutions, we often think of Yoga, Zumba, some health talks or an Annual health check-ups. Usually, employees link good memories with wellness initiatives at the workplace. But when asked about the effectiveness of these programs, it is hard to find a straight answer from any of the stakeholders. HR folks complain about how employees or associates don’t come forward for the events and employees often complain about the programs.
One of the ways to find effectiveness and utilization of wellness programs is to check how many wellness partners have been changed in the last 3 years. Many of these programs start with a lot of fan-fare and excitement but over a period of time, both the excitement and participation wanes. Unavailability of data further increases the doubt over effectiveness of these programs.
In one such example of a large Corporate, in the first year at the beginning of the program the participation was 95% which reduced to 20% by the end of year. With a renewed push again 40% of the employees enrolled in the second year but that again dipped to 5% by the end of second year. The program was discontinued at the end of second year. Both HR and Management are often left perplexed about what program to run to keep their employees interested and motivated.
Health and Wellness are often used interchangeably. Even though both are related in many ways, they are not the same. If you are NOT focusing on your wellness everyday, it will definitely result in bad health. Yoga, zumba, gyms will fall under wellness or fitness but annual health check-up falls under health category. Given the amount of time an employee spends at the workplace, focusing on health at the workplace is very important. Employers are aware of the fact and are also concerned about their employees but are often lost to find the right program that has both high participation and high on effectiveness.
Health insurance is a very important benefit and almost all the established firms are providing today. Apart from that annual health check-ups are also becoming norms. Utilization of health check-up programs is usually in the lower two digits and there is no metric to measure effectiveness. After the results, if employees are asked about what they did when they were found to have high cholesterol in the health check-up, the response is often startling. Many of the responses will be something like Nothing!, I don’t know what to do, why should I do anything when I don’t feel a thing etc. Employers have their own limitations, what can they do if employees themselves are not disciplined.
Even though everyone understands and agrees about the need for preventive health programs, RoI of these wellness programs is an important question that is often left unanswered in the management meetings. Another factor that has started to become relevant is the rising group health premiums. Typically, a couple of months before the renewal date of the health insurance, the team wakes up and starts asking for quotes from the markets. The claims ratio is high, 110 - 140%, the quotes are going to be higher. What can be done now? Either reduce the coverage or the benefits. The choice is tough!
Employers must embrace preventive health in a true sense, either for providing better care at the workplace or to reduce their health claims.