0 Comments | Apr 11, 2010

Connect the Wellness Dots

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The problem is well-defined: the cost of American healthcare, already 52% more expensive than the next highest nation on earth, is rising at double-digit rates. While politicians and lobbyists debate policy and implementation, businesses see an interim solution in the wellness arena. Healthier employees file fewer health care claims.

It sounds simple enough. Unfortunately, businesses are having a tough time connecting the dots. Owen Sullivan, CEO of Right Management, reports that “wellness has limited appeal as a strategic investment and organizations fail to successfully connect wellness within the context of organizational strategy.” There is a clear disconnect between business’ desire for healthier employees and the methodology they employ to realize that goal.

Traditional measures include gym memberships, smoking cessation classes, office ergonomics, diet education, and after-work club activities. An emerging frontier is the Vacation Wellness™ benefit genre, encouraging employees to utilize all of their vacation time by offering access to deep travel discounts.

All are valuable in isolation, but work best in concert. At the end of the day, though, reducing per-employee healthcare cost depends ultimately on the degree of leadership buy-in, support, and consistency in wellness program application. Without the appropriate culture shift at the top, businesses will struggle to achieve noticeable results.