What is a Wellness Program?
Wellness program is a generic phrase which garners a wide variety of definitions depending on the way the phrase is used. For our purposes a wellness program is a program designed to promote health and well-being through primary prevention of chronic illness and disease. Given that 70-80% of all health care expenses to go treat chronic, preventable diseases it’s little surprise that employers, schools and the government are encouraging people and groups to establish a wellness program.
A wellness program can include many different components including: health risk assessments, health screening / biometric testing, behavioral change programs, disease management programs, self care programs, health / wellness newsletters, wellness coach / health coach programs and even incentive components within a wellness program.
A growing number of employers offer some form of an employee wellness program. Research and employers have found that a well planned and implemented employee wellness program can reduce or mitigate the rise in the cost of employee health care. In addition an employee wellness program can also improve employee morale, decrease presenteeism, decrease absenteeism, improve productivity and more. Few, if any, other employee benefits offer a positive return on investment like an employee wellness program.
The wellness program phenomenon is not limited to employers. In fact, schools are adopting wellness programs for both staff and students. The first group, staff members, suffer from the same issues that any other business would related to the rising cost of health care. For students, however, the trend towards offering a student wellness program is being driven by a change in federal law. Specifically, the WIC Reauthorization of 2004 stated that any school system in the US that participated in the federally funded school lunch program must have a student wellness program in place by July 1, 2006. This change in law had an impact on more than 12,000 school systems throughout the United States.
The student wellness programs created by most of these school systems leaves much to be desired. The federal government gave little guidance as to effective wellness program design, components or resources. That coupled with partisan school boards which are more worried about elections than effective wellness programs has lead to little improvement in student health.
A wellness program can be created by a group with little or no experience in health promotion and wellness. To do so will require a great deal of effort on the part of the group. It takes time to learn about the components of an effective wellness program and to understand how to effectively implement, monitor and evaluate the wellness program. As a result, most groups hire a professional wellness program consultant who can greatly shorten the timeline to implementation and greatly improve the employee wellness program ROI.
When considering the services of a wellness program consultant it is advisable to find one that is independent and not “married” to any one wellness company or wellness program. Wellness program consultants that have relationships with numerous corporate wellness companies often have more experience and are able to generate a higher wellness program ROI.
For assistance in developing, implementing and / or evaluating a wellness program please contact us at Infinite Health Coach. [Contact Us]