Considerations Before Adopting A Wellness Plan

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Should employers concern themselves with the wellness of their workers? If employers want to spend less for health care costs, the answer is yes. This claim is based on many studies on big companies that adopt a wellness plan.

Doctors Richard Milani and Carl Lavie studied how a wellness program helps lessen the medical costs in a certain company with 185 workers. The employer implemented an exercise training and cardiac rehabilitation for his employees as a wellness program.

Some of the workers were classified as prone to heart problems based on their blood pressure, body fat, anxiety, etc. After 6 months, 57 percent of those prone to heart problems were reclassified as low-risk. It was observed that there was a significant decline of medical claim costs by $1,421 per participant.

Other companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, SAS Institute, Biltmore Tourism Enterprise, Chevron, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and others reported large wellness plan investment returns. Undoubtedly, as these big companies as show, adopting a wellness program really helps companies gain more annual yields.

Laying down a list of considerations in choosing a wellness plan provider would not give justice to the complexity of wellness issues. Instead, consulting a wellness expert should be the paramount consideration. Contacting or subscribing to a newsletter provider for assistance with workplace wellness plan is also an equally important consideration.

Nevertheless, a company must consider the following important points before adopting wellness program.

Consider how to make the workers participate in the wellness program.

Some employees do not want to participate in the program for various reasons. One might cite no interest in doing exercise. Others may say they are too busy to participate. And the rest are just lazy.

Mistrust over the leadership of the company is another reason some employees are reluctant to participate. Remember that a wellness program is an unusual mandate. Employees who have mistrust over the leadership may doubt as to the real intent of the program.

It needs a persuasive, passionate, and persistent leadership to make employees participate in a wellness program.

To avoid suspicion among employees, the employers must show that the wellness program is not all about greater annual yields. The program must be projected as purely for the health benefits of the employees.

Middle managers should play a vital role in persuading the employees since they are the closest to them. In addition, wellness program managers must learn to adjust to the behavior of the employees in the workplace. Not the employees to the wellness program manager. A wellness program manager must be friendly, collaborative, and methodical.

Consider gradual implementation of wellness programs

Wellness programs should not be implemented all at once. Remember that a wellness program is unusual for most companies. Sudden workplace culture shifts may produce culture shock.

The best way to start the program is by making a plan that gradually introduces wellness concerns to the employees. In implementation, patience is needed. Make monthly meetings, for example, that discuss employees’ concerns and wellness. Once employees are introduced to the importance of wellness in the workplace, they are ready to accept wellness program.

Consider that wellness is not just physical, but also mental as well as social.

This must also be considered in choosing a wellness plan provider. Not all causes of employees’ absences and unproductivity are brought by physical problems. People may suffer from adverse stress and depression. These two problems are not only mental but also social, affecting mostly family members, friends, and officemates.

In choosing a wellness program and plan provider, consider adding guidance counseling. To cite a concrete example, Biltmore Tourism Enterprises offers, as part of its wellness program, a nondenominational chaplain service. This service gives advice to the employees regarding divorce, and other family issues like death, grief, child rearing, etc.

Also consider adding “fun” factor to the programs. Remember that everybody loves to do enjoyable activities and are more likely to participate if it isn’t drudgery.

Consider making the wellness plan low cost or free.

Providing low-cost or free health and fitness services to employees is a good way to promote wellness. Putting an on-site fitness or recreation center is now becoming common to larger companies.

Organizing health fairs is also effective to provide free health services to employees. Providing healthy, tasty and affordable food or snacks for employees will definitely promote good health.

Some companies view the provision of free services to their employees as part of their wellness program.

Consider Partnership with Health and Wellness Institutions

Partnerships with these institutions is governed by a give and take attitude. For example, some companies who have developed a partnership with local health institutions sometimes participate in their local medical practices. The trainees in the local health institutions make use of the employees of the partner company as subjects, while the employees receive medical attention for free.

Consider Communication

Here is where the media and the Internet play an important role. Companies who had successfully implemented wellness plans made use of different communication strategies. For example, Nelnet includes wellness-related messages in its weekly emails to their employees. And H-E-B developed competitiveness among units and departments that vie with one another to have their health-success stories featured on their website.

The Internet is also an effective source of new information about wellness. Make use of it. Many newsletters nowadays are sent through emails. It is a good idea to subscribe to a newsletter provider that assists their subscribers with wellness programs.

Should You Offer Your Employees Unlimited PTO?

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It’s no secret that America’s workers are busy. Between family obligations (like sick kids or ailing parents) and necessary errands (like annual physicals and renewing driver’s licenses at the DMV), few can dedicate paid days off to real vacation time. Fortunately, some companies have found a way to remedy this situation. They call their solution “unlimited PTO,” and it combines paid sick days and personal/vacation days under one “paid time off” umbrella for employees to utilize at their own discretion.

So far, these vacation-generous employers are few. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), less than 1 percent of U.S. employers currently offer unlimited PTO. While many are small start-ups, the policies are gaining popularity among larger employers as well. Recent companies with unlimited PTO policies mentioned in the news include Best Buy, Motley Fool and Netflix. The SHRM reports that another 2 percent of organizations are considering adding an unlimited PTO benefit within the next year. Should you join them? Consider the following pros and cons.

Pro: Fresher, energized employees.

Unlimited PTO policies allow workers to take time off when they need it. Whether they’re coming down with a cold or could just benefit from a “mental health” day, a small break enables them to renew and recharge. You’ll have more employees working consistently at 100 percent rather than plodding along, suffering from burnout out.

Pro: Reduced administrative work.

PTO policies require employees to use paid time off “within reason” while giving them the freedom to take time away from the office at their discretion. This means you (or your HR department) no longer have to track days off against vacation and sick time balances. You also won’t have to “pay out” unused time when an employee moves on.

Pro: More attractive benefits package.

Today’s workers value flexibility, making unlimited PTO an extremely attractive benefit in the eyes of potential hires. But there’s more: not only may offering unlimited PTO help you recruit the best new workers, it will also increase current employee loyalty. This means less costly turnover.

Con: Potential for unequal opportunity.

You obviously cannot allow everyone in your company to take time off at the same time. But making sure every worker has an equal opportunity to use PTO can be difficult. Even the best managers may find it impossible to coordinate a fair and effective schedule.

Con: Not all jobs work with unlimited PTO.

Some jobs require workers to be present, making unlimited PTO difficult to implement. This can lead to resentment between employees or departments where one’s job works well within the policy paradigm and the other’s does not. Unlimited PTO may also not work well within an industry that is unionized or at large organizations with hundreds of nonexempt hourly workers.

If you’d like to explore using unlimited PTO—or another new benefit—to enhance your company’s employee benefits package, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the latest popular options.