It is important for any organization to approach the health and wellness of their employees in the same way they would approach any crucial project. The first step is to identify the core problem. It is easy to identify rising health care costs as the problem because their tangible and affecting your bottom line every day. However, don't fall into the trap of treating symptoms instead of the root cause. Why has the rise of health care costs become expected and inevitable? As you answer this deeper question, remember, your organization is a microcosm of the society we all live in.
Health care costs, like anything else, are driven by the amount of services utilized. In short, use health care less and your costs will go down. And yes, our current medical system does provide some preventive care services. The cost for these services (i.e. routine physical exams, preventive screenings, etc.) is miniscule when compared to the cost to treat illness and disease (treatment services). There is no reason to focus on reducing the utilization of preventive services as their ROI is enormous.
Instead, the goal is to keep your employees healthy and their need for treatment will go down. We want to change the behavior of your employees so they will make smarter decisions as a service consumer and adopt lifestyles that prevent chronic disease and illness and utilize services only when needed. When you boil it all down, research has shown that there are 3 key elements required to successfully change behavior.
- Awareness- of both the current behaviors and desired, new behaviors as well as a reason to see new behaviors as better.
- External Support- It would be foolish to expect a successful recovery from a prescription drug addict who is also a pharmacist.
- Internal Achievement- the ability to identify a personal positive benefit from enacting the new behaviors.
With limited resources, how do you maximize your impact? The answer to this question is different for every organization because each organization has created its own workstyle. I believe the answer starts with acknowledging the initial premise- your organization has an impact- like it or not. So often I see or read about companies that have spent thousands on a worksite wellness program without owning the level of impact their workstyle has on its success. Developing an effective worksite wellness program requires much more than just offering a menu of wellness-related services to employees. A powerful worksite wellness program is birthed from the same commitment and vision that makes your organization successful. It requires a deeper level of thought than, “What vendor can I find to do some things inside my budget.” You're not looking for a vendor, you're looking for a partner who can help you create a workstyle that achieves your goal of healthy employees who see treatment as a last resort and prevention as their first priority to feel their best.