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Employee Wellness InitiativeIn 2014, one of the biggest changes to the benefits landscape will emerge. Employers can incentivize employee contributions to health insurance through participation in wellness initiatives. Read on for more information about those initiatives, how to communicate this to your staff, and even what types of wellness programs will best help your company.

  • Your Obamacare To Do List: Launch a Wellness Program. Inc.: “In smaller companies, the return on investment comes mostly through reduced disability and workers’ comp claims and soft savings, such as reduced absenteeism and higher productivity. “If you have a company with 10 people, it’s a huge issue when someone is in poor health and not coming in to work-;or coming in and not performing,” says Thomas Parry, president of the Integrated Benefits Institute, a nonprofit membership organization that provides health and productivity research to companies of all sizes.
  • The Affordable Care Act benefit that could save your life - and your job. SunHerald:  “Employers who provide health insurance will be allowed to offer an enticing carrot to their employees: Sizable health-care-premium discounts for following a wellness program. By following certain guidelines, such as choosing to lose weight, exercising regularly or taking charge of a chronic health condition (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes), you could save up to 30 percent. You could save up to 50 percent if you stop or do not start smoking. And don't forget to dust off your spandex shorts -- you might even pick up a free or reduced-price gym membership.”
  • Gamification helps hospital improve workers' health. BenefitsPro: “Wellness plans are the hot ticket right now in benefits packages, with employers increasingly looking to them to cut health care costs and improve worker health. Wellness plans got some heavy support with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which makes premium discounts available to those who lose weight, take part in health risk appraisal programs or stop smoking. Social sharing wellness plan designs are becoming a popular subset of wellness plans as they show signs of engaging more employees than did previous programs. While Keas has been at the forefront of this trend, others have seen the potential for increasing employee participation and are offering such options to employers.”
  • ROI: The Function of Free Oatmeal in the Corporate Wellness Wars. Huffington Post: “In many cases, employees may purchase and consume as many as 50 percent of their weekly meals at work. That represents many opportunities over the course of the week to make choices that promote good health. While quitting smoking and spending 45 minutes on the treadmill are extremely positive health behaviors, they may not elicit the same enthusiasm as one might have for an anticipated lunch break. If the food options are good and good for you, employees are likely to seek them out more often, prefer them over off-site lunch locations, and eventually replace old eating habits with newer, healthier ones...It's a delicious benefit and one that can lead to a healthier, happier workforce with a significant savings on medical costs. Analysts and industry critics will continue to lump statistics for assessing ROI and bottom line returns for executive decision-makers, but the view from the frontline is already there: with the right ingredients, proof-of-concept has been achieved. Now more than ever, wellness dollars make business sense.”
  • Healthier Wellness Communications. Human Resource Executive Online: “A personal touch has been the key to McCarthy Building Companies Inc.'s award-winning wellness program, says Lisa Sanders, director of compensation and benefits. In May, the employee-owned company was recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for helping employees eat better and move more. Headquartered in St. Louis, the company boasts more than 100-percent participation from their 1,600 full-time employees (and some ex-employees) in some type of wellness activity (education, preventative screening, physical activity, etc). ‘The thing that's made us most successful is what we've communicated, not how," says Sanders, noting that cost-cutting is important to her employees' culture. "We provide some of the best benefits in the construction industry, but with healthcare reform increasing costs, we talk to our employees about the cost benefits of staying healthy.’”

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Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.

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