Good communication key in successful wellness programs

Although corporate health and wellness programs have been successfully proven to increase workforce morale and productivity while also reducing the amount the employer and employee pay in health insurance premiums, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company suggests that wellness offerings can go unnoticed or underused if the benefits are not communicated properly.

The growing popularity of wellness programs is apparent as 60 percent of employers nationwide currently offer a wellness program of some kind and another 8 percent say they plan to offer one within the next year. However, the success of the program hinges on employees taking advantage of it and without participation, any wellness program can falter.

“Employers today are more interested than ever in offering wellness programs to their employees,” said Randy Horn, president and CEO of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. “They’re looking for ways to help offset the rising cost of providing health care coverage to employees, and they want to attract and retain a quality workforce as well. But merely offering a wellness program won’t necessarily get employees engaged – you have to communicate well and often.”

When it comes to keeping a company’s workforce in the loop regarding health and wellness offerings, some benefits carriers offer face-to-face communication as part of its enrollment program to help in spreading the word about available benefits. Although salary illustrations and statements of benefits received for participating in the program can be helpful, a sit-down with a counselor can help raise awareness about the importance of participating in the program.

“Don’t underestimate the value of personal, individualized benefits communication in today’s workplace,” Horn said. “The increasing responsibility employees have for making decisions about their benefits makes good communication more important than ever. Employers that use a carrier that offers this service at no charge as part of its enrollment process will find a more satisfied and engaged workforce.”

Businesses that successfully implement wellness programs are rewarded every year at the annual LEADER Awards for Excellence sponsored by IBM. Rite Aid was recently honored for offering the first drugstore industry customer loyalty program with wellness benefits. Rite Aid’s wellness+ customer loyalty program won the loyalty category award for its success since the program was initiated in April 2010.