Business Workshop: Make wellness programs work

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As more businesses offer work site wellness programs, many employers are asking whether these programs can deliver real results to their bottom line.

The answer is a resounding “yes.” But the quality and effectiveness of the program significantly influence the results.

Here are 10 tips for creating an effective wellness program:

1. Assess workforce data. Review past insurance claims, employee surveys and health assessments to select wellness programs that address employees’ most common health challenges.

2. Create a plan. Develop a detailed plan that outlines short- and long-term objectives, budgets and expected outcomes.

3. Don’t be exclusive. Make wellness activities available to all employees and spouses/​domestic partners.

4. Offer biometric screenings. These give employees a snapshot of their current health. Onsite screenings make it easy for employees to participate.

5. Select wellness champions. Choose respected leaders within the organization to promote the program.

6. Communicate. Use email, promotional flyers and in-person meetings to communicate wellness activities. Messages from executives demonstrate leadership support.

7. Offer incentives. More employees will participate when employers offer gift cards, lower health insurance premiums, cash bonuses and discounts on various health products and services.

8. Use digital tools. Online, mobile and tablet tools help employees keep track of their health care costs and become more-informed health care consumers.

9. Track results. Employers should work with their health plan to measure the impact on employee engagement and medical costs.

10. Solicit feedback. Be flexible and listen to employees on how to improve the program for next year.

Following these tips can help employers and employees maximize the benefits of an employer-sponsored wellness program and improve the overall health of the company and its workforce.



E.J. Heckert, UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania, ej_heckert@uhc.comters affecting business. 

To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at

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