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Effective corporate health and wellness programs require engaged management

Tammy Enright, office manager at Fargo, North Dakota-based Spectrum Aeromed, was responsible for taking care of the company’s health insurance bill each year. When she saw it going up, she took action by pursuing an incentive program that would benefit everyone.

Corporate health and wellness programs are being utilized by businesses across the country as a way to lower health insurance costs for employers while also improving their lifestyle practices and increasing productivity.

“We’re a small business and it was huge that employee claims were so high,” Enright told the Prairie Business Magazine. “We wanted to boost employee morale, lower the number of sick days, and wanted employees to know we care about them and their health. We’re hoping to make a difference in their lives and pass that on to their families as well.”

According to the news source, Spectrum Aeromed is a manufacturing company with only 24 employees on payroll. While that may be normal size for a small business in North Dakota, it can be challenging to effectively implement a corporate health and wellness program in that setting.

“What we find is this is one more duty assigned to somebody in the office,” Pete Seljevold, director at Healthy ND Worksite Wellness, told the news source. “So our purpose is to get that person trained, show them where the inexpensive and free resources are available and they become the champion. We equip them to flow out this program in their worksite.”

Molly Soeby, consultant at Healthy ND, told the news source it is crucial for an effective wellness program to have the support not only of the workforce it is impacting, but from the management as well.

According to the Portland Business Journal, a study released in the December 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Review found a well-run corporate health and wellness program can lead to a $2 to $3 average return on their investment, at a rate as high as 6-to-1.

Researchers of positive wellness programs found several consistencies across the board including engaged leadership from top to bottom, similarities with the identity of the company, a broad and relevant design, increased accessibility, strong communication and partnerships both internal and external, the news source states.

“Lay the groundwork for success in the program first by understanding your health risks,” William Bruning, president and CEO of Mid-America Coalition on Healthcare, told the news source.