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Case Study: Successful Corporate Wellness Programs
Preview Text: Let's take a look at some of the companies that had successfully implemented a corporate wellness program, and how they had benefited from it.
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In the previous article, we talked about some of the new trends in corporate wellness program, the 5 Pillars of Wellness, as well as a hint at how the 5 Pillars of Wellness could be integrated into a corporate wellness program. In this article, we will take a look at some of the companies that had successfully implemented a corporate wellness program, and how they had benefited from it.
Confluence (a mid-sized, US-based company)
Confluence took a 3-step approach in their corporate wellness program in 2010, which was later reinforced by having a weekly on-site health coach in 2012. Their corporate wellness program is also closely tied with the health coverage offered to the employees.
First, they had every employee complete a 20-minute questionnaire to help employees and spouses identify their health risks and receive a baseline score. Employees then underwent a biometric screening which they could take either onsite or at their primary care physician's office to validate the baseline score they received from the questionnaire. Step three was to make appropriate selections from a menu of point-generating activities collectively identified as the “Take a Healthy Step” program. Accumulating a set number of points over the course of the year retained the employee’s eligibility for cost-free insurance. In addition, random gift card drawings were held throughout the year to remind and excite employees around the points “game.”
Confluence also developed a health toolkit to complement the corporate wellness program. An online package was introduced, including a series of wellness programs—exercise, smoking cessation, weight control, healthy eating and stress management—with each individual’s results automatically tracked by the insurer’s website. Annual physical exams, preventive care and cancer screenings, health event promotions, vaccinations and massages, as well as a "Lunch and Learn" series of informative presentations, also were included in the program. Continuous improvement remains a cornerstone of the evolving joint effort.
As a result of these efforts, Confluence was able to reduce its health care premiums by 13 percent for their renewal since 2012.
As enthusiasm for the wellness program—and, increasingly, its team activities—continues to spread, they expect the program’s reach and effectiveness to grow over time.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a medical device, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods company, had made employee health and wellness a priority for decades. The company also evaluated many of its wellness investments, which cost over $60 million per year by 2014.
In 2014, J&J’s “Culture of Health” 12-program framework included:
- A tobacco-free workplace
- Free health profiles
- An employee assistance program
- Medical surveillance
- Physical activity
- Health promotion
- Stress and energy management
- Cancer awareness, HIV/AIDs awareness
- Healthy eating
- Modified duty/return to work, and travel health
All global locations participated, though program content was customized by location and culture.
Health tools included:
- Prevention-focused education
- Rewards for healthy behaviours
- Workplace environments that made it natural for employees to engage in healthy behaviours
J&J began to collect data on health-related savings from their investments in wellness programs as early as the 1990s. In 1995, medical claims for around 19,000 U.S.-based employees who participated in the Health & Wellness program showed an average total savings of $224.66 per employee across all expenditure categories, with savings becoming more significant over time. A separate study analysed employee health risk and cost data from 2002-2008. Researchers found that the average J&J employee had a lower predicted probability of being at high risk for:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor nutrition
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
In the time period studied, 2002-2008, J&J’s medical spending grew at a 3.7% lower annual rate than at comparable U.S. companies.
SAP is one of the most successful companies in Germany. Since its inception in 1972, it has become a multi-national enterprise software company with locations in 180 countries and over four hundred thousand customers. An underlying contributor to its business success is its commitment to employee well-being.
SAP employees clearly love working for the company, in part because of its supportive workplace culture, management, and well-being programs. Glass Door awarded SAP its 2019 Best Places To Work Award, and named it the “Number One Best Place to work” in Germany. SAP has won employee awards around the world, winning 175 awards in 2018 alone.
Some of the components of SAP’s well-being program include:
- Onsite Health Services that provides multiple onsite medical and psychological services, emergency management, Return-to-Work-Program, and health training.
- Daycare programs and on-site childcare facilities.
- Flexible work hours where employees can adjust to personal circumstances.
- Dinner to Go program lets employees conveniently order healthy, pre-cooked and sealed meals from the "SAP Dinner to Go" app, and pick up from the canteen after work.
- Mindfulness and emotional intelligence workshops called Search Inside Yourself that are run by more than 9,000 trained practitioners with the goal of helping employees better deal with everyday stress and be more focused and productive at work.
The SAP Integrated Report shows that the company’s well-being efforts have improved its Business Health Culture Index from 69% in 2013 to 78% in 2018, with each 1% change in the Index delivering a $90-$100 Million (EU) impact on their operating profit.
In terms of employee mental health, SAP programs contribute to higher employee engagement and leadership trust and lower absenteeism. Employees who took part in the mindfulness program have reported greater job satisfaction, more mental clarity, and improved creativity. Employees can call a free 24/7 helpline to receive mental health support. The globally available Employee Assistance Program, EAP, is available to all employees and their family members.
SAP’s strategic and systematic approach to human capital explains why SAP is a global leader in employee well-being. What really sets SAP apart is leadership. The CEO, Board of Directors, and front-line managers see employee well-being as a management priority and ensure that SAP’s culture supports employee well-being as a top business objective.
Calculating ROI and VOI
The concept of a return on investment (ROI) is central to most business decisions. Many large companies have made the financial investment and taken the time and effort to calculate a return on investment for their wellness programs. A smattering of examples is below:
- An analysis of Johnson and Johnson's health & wellness program showed significant reductions over time in 8 out of 13 health risk measures for participants vs. non-participants.
- Citibank's health management program showed a statistically significant reduction in health risks for employees who participated in more intensive program services. This study estimated an ROI of $4:1.
- The study with the strongest design is the Highmark, Inc. study, and they demonstrated an ROI of $1.65 for every dollar invested in wellness programs, based on medical claims costs. Additionally, the study concluded that the ROI from productivity enhancements was arguably greater than the ROI based on claims costs, suggesting an actual ROI of over $3:1.
- A DC technology firm saw a return on investment of $52 per employee after conducting a two-month workplace weight loss challenge. Employees were encouraged to track daily steps and participate in weekly weigh-ins to monitor their weight over the course of the eight weeks. Total medical costs associated with high BMI dropped 19% as a result of employee weight reduction.
In addition to financial indicators such as reductions in medical claims costs, there are a wider variety of indicators that prove the value of wellness programs (VOI). Examples of these additional measures include participation, screenings, health risk reduction, service utilization, productivity, shareholder value and reputation.
The better corporate wellness programs will use year-over-year changes in health risks in addition to actual numbers such as pounds lost or increase in physical activity, and translate those numbers into estimates of changes in health plan costs or potential cost avoidance.
Harder measures of human resources cost categories that could be measured with cooperation and input from the HR department include:
- Health plan claims
- Workers' compensation and disability payments
- Turnover and recruitment
The wellness program should take the data received, both self-reported and clinical results, and combine that information with employee surveys to calculate potential cost savings, actual savings and value of investment for its clients. As the healthcare laws shift over the coming months and years, it's important to recognize the role of prevention.
Wellness might not seem like a priority for some employers, but the potential savings are vast. Partnering with an established wellness company can lead to an effective integrated health management solution for companies of all sizes in all industries. The numbers speak for themselves!
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