Benefits and Compensation

Law Firm Predicts Workplace Wellness Programs Will Become Mandatory

Will the day come when you either join your company’s workplace wellness program or be disciplined or terminated? A new report says Yes.

Make a list of your company’s assets. It will certainly include your facilities and equipment, your in-house talent and proprietary knowledge, and your goodwill.

And these days, there is likely to be one more item: the wellness of your workforce.

That’s the opinion of the national law firm, Littler Mendelson, P.C., in a fascinating new report that recently crossed our desk. Titled Employer Mandated Wellness Initiatives: Respecting Workplace Rights While Controlling Healthcare Costs, the 36-page document detailed what it termed a coming “perfect storm” in the employer-paid healthcare plan arena.

“Three forces are combining,” declared the report’s authors, “threatening balance sheets and in many cases, raising the question of business survival.” The forces: accelerating medical costs, rising healthcare needs based on America’s sedentary lifestyle, and the coming “talent war” that will make it difficult to reduce healthcare benefits.

Littler Mendelson’s solution to controlling what it termed “the healthcare monster”? Wellness programs. The report went on to make the point that, while generally voluntary today, such programs will become mandatory in the future. “Employers will have no choice but to move closer to making workplace wellness a requirement,” the authors concluded.

Thinking of starting a workplace wellness program … or upgrading the one you have? Examine BLR’s new Workplace Wellness: Healthy Workers, Healthy Families, Healthy ROI for 30 days at no cost and no risk. Click here.

Littler Mendelson’s report was clear to state that whether mandatory or voluntary, any wellness program must meet the requirements of multiple laws, including Title VII, HIPAA, ADEA, ADA, ERISA and, if there’s a union involved, NLRA. State law is also a factor. That points up the attention that must be paid to conducting a program that is both legal and effective.

A 6-to-1 Payback

By all accounts, it’s worth the effort. The Littler report contains accounts of many successful programs, most involving corporate giants, but among them, one run by Lincoln Plating, a mid-sized manufacturer in Nebraska. Lincoln “experiences health insurance costs 50 percent less than the national average and a 6-to-1 total return on its wellness investment,” the report notes.

How does one start a wellness program? For answers, we turn to a new BLR guide, titled Workplace Wellness: Healthy Employees, Healthy Families, Healthy ROI. These are the steps the book lays out in creating and operating a plan at your workplace.

–Create a Wellness Champion Among Senior Management. Likely not difficult, once you explain the human and economic payback and the fact that health insurance costs have jumped 8 percent to 12 percent yearly. We’ll give you a template to use in doing so.

–Assess the Current Level of Wellness at Your Workplace. Do this through surveys and checklists that inquire about specific health concerns for your industry and operation. The book provides the forms to do it.

–Create a Customized Operating Plan. This should include writing a mission statement, setting goals and timelines, and assigning responsibility. (The book follows the SMART method … creating a plan that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed.) You’ll also need to consider how your plan interfaces with HIPAA, ADA, and other laws. The book explains how to stay in compliance.

–Launch Your Program. Use creativity, according to Workplace Wellness, with measures such as running a contest to name the program and coming up with appropriate rewards. The book suggests (and gives detailed direction on how to run) a health fair.

Click here to examine BLR’s Workplace Wellness: Healthy Workers, Healthy Families, Healthy ROI for 30 days at no cost and no risk!

–Communicate, Educate, Motivate, Empower. Build wellness into your company’s operations and culture, suggests the book. One example: Establish a regular wellness announcement time at department meetings. Motivate with incentives, and empower by letting the workers run the program as much as possible.

–Measure, Assess, and Adjust. There are numerous metrics to show how well your program is working, from improvements in absentee rates and health insurance premiums to changes in weight and cholesterol. The book provides a full set of assessment tools.

If you’d like to examine Workplace Wellness: Healthy Employees, Healthy Families, Healthy ROI on a no-cost, no-obligation basis for 30 days, we’ve arranged for you to do so. Click below and we’ll be happy to set it up.

To download a copy of the Littler Mendelson report, click here

Improve Your Company’s Health … and its Bottom Line!
Studies show you can do both with a well-planned wellness program. Now BLR has a brand new complete guide to help you easily set one up, and achieve both a healthier workforce and an ROI that could exceed 300 percent! Try it for 30 days! Learn more.