In the past, employee health and wellness programs have focused on helping prevent common office-health issues. This has been approached with things like yoga classes and eating healthy snacks. But employees are expecting more from these health and wellness programs. Companies have responded to what employees want and need by getting more creative with their offerings.
Some employers have upped the ante on health and wellness initiatives by investing in more consolidated healthcare. Others have added more voluntary benefits at a modest investment. We already know strong employee health and wellness increase engagement and productivity, so how are companies injecting some novelty and convenience into healthcare and wellness offerings?
Consolidated, Easy-to-Use Health Insurance
Potato chip producer Utz probably isn’t the first company you’d think is likely to have outstanding health and wellness. But in 2016, Utz opened its own primary care facility at its headquarters in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Building a proprietary primary care clinic isn’t a new phenomenon. But Utz is among the smallest companies ever to attempt such a thing. Despite the large investment leading up to the clinic’s opening, Utz estimates its healthcare spending has dropped from about 7% to 2.6%.
Under this system, employees don’t have to deal with third-party healthcare facilities. They know where to go and they know they won’t get stuck with a huge bill visiting their own clinic. The Utz clinic serves about 2,000 employees and their dependents, giving them easier access to healthcare professionals than before. The results have been healthier, happier, more engaged employees.
Health and wellness benefits have had their moment in the sun but the clouds are closing in. There’s evidence now that specific initiatives don’t actually add much to employee satisfaction, engagement and overall productivity. Some research indicates that only about a quarter of employees buy into wellness plans, and their costs often outweigh their true benefits.
One option some employers are taking advantage of is the self-insurance model. Self-insurance require the employer pays for employees’ medical expenses, rather than essentially splitting the costs with employees (as is the case with full-insurance plans). Using a full-insurance plan, all employees are covered, but they still have to pay copays and other expenses. These plans are marketed to companies who pay an annual fee for the entire plan. The problem is that this fee often increases annually, sometimes by double-digit percentage points. Using a self-insurance plan gives the employer more control over the cost of their healthcare coverage.
Where Do Health and Wellness Programs Stand Now?
Health and wellness programs are still wildly popular among employers. But there are more efficient ways to build programs, encourage participation and help employees get the most out of them.
Another key factor to boosting employee participation in any health and wellness program is better employee communication. Employee communication tools, like digital postcards, gather all the relevant information about a program in one, easy-to-use micro-website for workers. To see some examples of digital postcards, visit our digital postcard gallery.