Culture of wellness crucial in successful health programs

A new report released on corporate health and wellness and what it takes to implement a successful program finds that creating an all-encompassing culture of wellness is necessary in instituting change among a company’s workforce.

The North Bay Business Journal’s Health Care Conference and Inaugural Healthiest Companies Awards held recently featured a panel that came to the unanimous agreement that corporate wellness is proven effective in increasing productivity from employees, reducing absenteeism and cutting rising healthcare costs, according to the North Bay Business Journal.

The event featured David Sobel, medical director of patient education and health promotion at the Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Permanente Northern California, as keynote speaker and recognized 14 companies for their exemplary corporate health and wellness programs.

“In the long run, with a long-term investment, the changes in improving health and lifestyle really can yield a big difference in medical utilization and disease prevention,” Sobel told the news source. “The real lever is changing the culture.”

Scott Setterlund, employer relations specialist at Sutter Health, said during the event that wellness must be clearly defined across all platforms and as that happens, the movement will continue to evolve and improve, the news source states.

“We need to look at, instead of the cost of health care, the total value of employee health,” he said. “Wellness really is how we define it, and wellness doesn’t stay the same. It changes, and we need to surround ourselves with an environment that supports wellness.”

In order to facilitate employee participation in corporate health and wellness programs, some companies are taking the competitive approach. David Roddenberry of Healthy Wage told Fox News that businesses in a pinch will do anything to curb rising healthcare costs, and in order to increase participation in wellness initiatives, many offer incentives – and in some cases even cash – to employees who meet weight-loss goals as well as other health improvements.

“If we had our druthers, I think we’d fall more on the side of the carrots rather than the sticks,” Tom Curry, executive director of the Washington State Medical Association, told the news source.“But the overarching idea we support is the idea of incentives to change behaviors.”