Considering a Workplace Wellness Program?: Our Story and How It Might Help Your Organization with the Process

Posted in: Employee Benefits

As PSA’s Practice Leader of Human Resources, the health of our employee population is something that’s very important to me on several levels. In addition to caring about the well-being of our workforce, a healthy staff has the potential to increase productivity, decrease sick days and control costs (i.e. health insurance). That’s why few years ago, PSA’s leadership team decided to begin implementing a wellness program. I believe that the successes as well as lessons learned from our wellness story will be helpful to other organizations who may be considering a program as well.

Once we made the decision that a wellness program was a course we wanted to commit to, we went through the process of interviewing wellness companies to identify which would be the right fit. Qualities we were looking for included: biometrics capabilities, resources for employees if a particular condition was found during the biometrics exam, a dedicated nursing staff and support to help our staff make lifestyle changes. Once we chose and hired our wellness company, we were able to proceed with the implementation process.

The first year we introduced the program, we did receive some hesitancy from our employees so we developed a point structure to help incentivize and gain support. Employees had the opportunity to earn points through participating in community service, staying active, undergoing preventative tests, among other wellness related activities. Earning points provided employees the chance to be entered into various drawings to win gift cards.

A few of the incentives/programs that we developed and found successful included:

  • Changing the food we brought in for work lunches and in vending machines to be higher fiber, lower fat and lower sugar;
  • Offering Weight Watchers at Work;
  • Providing a gym subsidy;
  • Covering the cost of a smoking cessation program;
  • Providing an 8 week yoga program at the office;
  • Coordinating an 8 week Biggest Loser Challenge among employees with a $400 prize. We had 30 participants who over the course of the challenge lost a total of 500 pounds.

In the past two years since we implemented our wellness program, we have not had a double digit increase in our healthcare costs whereas prior to the program, we had seen this type of increase regularly. We believe that the wellness program has been a huge factor in driving down these increases.

In addition, the attitudes of our employees have also shifted. I had an employee in his 30’s who had originally been opposed to the program, especially the biometrics portion, but it was through his biometrics test that he learned he had a dangerously high cholesterol level. Without this test the young man could have faced very dire consequences, and he was ultimately very grateful for PSA to offer these regular exams.

We believe that as an employer, we have the responsibility to educate our employees about health and wellness to help better equip them to make smarter decisions when it comes to their own health. Ultimately this education has the potential to lead to a happier, healthier workforce that controls some of your organization’s costs. For more information on getting started with a workplace wellness program, please check out this blog post, “Reduce Healthcare Consumption at Your Organization: Getting Started With a Workplace Wellness Program” by one of our employee benefits consultants, Lynn Argenbright, and contact her directly at largenbright@psafinancial.com with any questions.

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