About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

EEOC Issues Preliminary Ruling on Wellness Programs

We've blogged since last year about several lawsuits that have led the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to clarify the rules governing wellness programs. By now, most of us are now familiar with the HIPAA-based rules that came into effect at the beginning of last year, but the situation is still evolving.

As the Wall Street Journal explained last week, current rules cap penalties for outcomes-based programs at 30% (or 50% for tobacco use). The EEOC proposes applying the same limits to participation-based wellness programs. Comments from the public are being accepted until June 19, after which a final ruling will be made.

Although we're monitoring the situation very carefully, I'm hopeful that the EEOC's final decision will add clarity. After all, no one wants to run afoul of the law. The more guidance the relevant agencies can provide, the better for everyone -- employers and wellness providers alike.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

3 Tips for Successful Off-Site Biometric Screenings

Today I've asked Aaron Yost, a Data Manager in our Health Informatics department, to offer a few tips for setting up a voucher program. Although on-site screenings are best for a number of reasons, they're not always feasible for every employee. Aaron offers three tips for making off-site screenings a success.

1. Allow enough time.

Employees who receive a screening in the workplace generally need to travel no more than a couple flights of stairs. The screening comes to them. But participants using off-site vouchers must first locate the nearest screening venue, then make accommodations to be screened during business hours or on their own time. When setting deadlines, be generous. There isn't a universal rule as each client population is unique, but a week may not be quite long enough. A month is usually more reasonable.

2. Consider all the options.

WCS offers several off-site screening options for participants, starting with physician forms. Employees simply ask their physicians to complete a simple form with their biometric data and fax it to WCS for processing. WCS also works with several nationwide lab partners that offer voucher programs for our clients. If possible, give employees more than one path to a screening.

3. Make off-site options a priority.

All employees, whether remote or based in a regional office, equally deserve a chance to know their numbers. Office-based employees sometimes think of vouchers as a backup -- an alternative in case they can't make the on-site screening. But for remote employees, a voucher may be the only chance they have to be screened. Accommodating all employees, regardless of geographic location, shows that you care about the well-being of the entire company.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stress Awareness Month and the Importance of Biometric Screenings

We talk a lot about employee engagement on this blog, and for good reason. It's in every employer's best interest to keep employees happy and healthy.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and effective stress-management is key to maintaining a happy and productive workforce. But it's also a serious health concern. Stress can lead to overeating, excessive drinking, and smoking -- unhealthy habits that can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and other serious health problems. Over time, stress can also damage the heart and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and other cardiovascular problems.

Helping employees learn relaxation techniques can be a great first step to managing short-term stress, but don't stop there. Encourage your employees to participate in a biometric screening so they can understand their risks and take charge of their health.

We all know that elevated biometric values negatively impact productivity, absenteeism, and other health-related costs. Offering biometric screenings not only gives you a fuller picture of your employees' health -- it helps you to take actionable steps toward improving your company's culture of wellness.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Corporate Wellness Impacts Employee Recruitment and Retention

When we talk about the many benefits of wellness programs, it's important to remember recruitment and retention. For many successful companies, an effective employee wellness program is part of a larger strategy to find and retain top talent.

We created a free infographic to illustrate the positive impact of wellness on employee recruitment and retention. Here are a few highlights:
  • 51 percent of program participants feel wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better.
  • 59 percent say they have more energy to be productive at work as a result of their participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs.
  • Organizations with highly-effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition.
Click here or on the thumbnail below to download a full-sized PDF version. Feel free to share!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aetna CEO Brings Employees Yoga, Meditation...and Higher Pay

If I asked you to name a company known for innovation and experimentation, what would you say? Apple? Google? Uber? Aetna?

That's not a typo -- I said Aetna.

The New York Times recently published a fascinating piece on Aetna's CEO and his commitment to wellness. The company's free yoga classes are consistently booked (more than 50,000 people have participated so far), and employees are reporting lower stress levels, better sleep quality, and increased productivity. Verifiable biometric markers of stress, such as heart rate variability and cortisol levels, have also decreased.

Mr. Bertolini also gave the company's lowest-paid employees a 33% raise last month.

As the article explains, Bertolini's belief in the power of wellness (specifically yoga and meditation) comes from a terrible injury he sustained while skiing. It left him in constant pain, and he says mindfulness training and yoga helped him cope. He convinced Aetna's Chief Medical Officer to offer yoga classes to employees and chart the results. Their efforts culminated in a study published by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in 2012.

Aetna's story is a powerful example of something we've said for years: wellness simply makes good business sense. It also shows the profound impact a single committed executive can make on employees' lives. Let's hope other corporate leaders take note and follow Aetna's lead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Millennials and Employee Wellness

I feel sorry for "millennials" (those born from the early 1980s to around 2000). They're called every name in the book: lazy, narcissistic, apathetic, unemployable. But as the employer of more than my fair share of millennials, I'm happy to dispel this myth. Young people are some of our smartest, most dedicated employees.

A recent Aon Hewitt survey found that millennials share a particular set of attitudes about health. Many exercise and care about eating well, but they aren't necessarily attracted to traditional health management programs. They value healthy workplaces and are enthusiastic about wellness, but on their own terms.

As Dee Edington and others have said, keeping healthy people healthy is just as important as addressing those at risk. Wellness providers must work to engage participants of all ages. But employers should also take note: Young people are attracted to workplaces that support their health. If you want to recruit the best and the brightest, then nurturing a culture of health should be a top priority.

Now if you'll excuse me, my highest-performing employees are doing headstands and I'd like to watch.