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Worksite Wellness: 9 Factors to Ensure Success

A study in the June 2008 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine highlighted the prevalence of best practice components in worksite wellness programs. They conclude these 9 factors produce the best outcomes in terms of worksite wellness improvements:

• Comprehensive program design, including health assessments as well as targeted and population-based intervention programs. EAP and disease management programs may also be offered to eligible participants.

• Management support characterized by visible messages, organization-wide health policies, and facilities.

• Broad-based communications — represented by a strategic, integrated communication plan with multiple delivery channels tailored to the population.

• Onsite staff dedicated to the implementation and coordination of health management programs.

• Multiple offerings, including phone-based, mail-based, and online coaching for high-risk individuals.

• Health awareness campaigns and targeted health education programs offered to the majority of the population regardless of risk status.

• Health screenings that include interpreting biometric values fed into the organization’s health assessment database as well as follow-up protocol.

• Integrated financial incentives tied to benefit plan design such as premium reimbursements and health savings account contributions.

• Vendor integration — involving data and services — to coordinate the overall population health management strategy.

Of 22 organizations in the study, 6 demonstrated these best practices and experienced significantly greater overall population risk reduction than the other 16 organizations. Some measures, such as health coaching success on an individual basis, showed no difference across organizations. Yet the best practice companies were better at recruiting appropriate participants into coaching services, thereby having higher impact on the population.

The bottom line message of the study is that organizations need a strategic plan addressing each quality component. That doesn’t mean a company without all 9 factors won’t experience positive results, but that success is optimized through a comprehensive approach.

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