We spend a lot of time at work.  If we’re unhappy there, it makes a day seem very long.  It can also impact our health, both physically and mentally.

Employers are responding to those concerns:  According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Employee Benefits Survey, three out of five employers now offer some kind of wellness program.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) is one of them.  Approximately 90 percent of our employees participate in our wellness program.

Offering a wellness program not only contributes to the health and wellbeing of employees; it can also impact the company’s bottom line.  A recent case study conducted by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) and BCBSNE determined that by promoting a culture of health and wellness at the workplace, employers like BCBSNE have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

BCBSNE’s ten-month healthy lifestyle incentive program awards wellness participation points and incentives based on year-end totals. We use the seven WELCOA benchmarks to a well workplace to analyze our results.

Here’s what we found when we reviewed our data:

  • The level of wellness participation affect job performance and unscheduled time away from work in a favorable way
  • Evidence that effective workplace wellness programs can help improve productivity related costs
  • Based on claims data, employees who earned an incentive level, incurred, on average, $1,779 less in medical costs than those who didn’t achieve an incentive level
  • Two independent health promotion experts analysis of our wellness program reported an ROI: $2.67 to $1

BCBSNE employees in the program participate in:

  • Fitness evaluations or physicals
  • Moving challenge
  • Nutrition challenge
  • Personal health assessment
  • Weight management
  • Health education
  • Preventive health activities and events

We’re eager to share what we’ve learned about employee wellness programs, but caution one size does not fit all. Companies need to look at their employee population and get guidance on what type of program would achieve the best results.

For example, different generations have varying opinions on what is a good wellness program.  Generation X and Baby Boomers like onsite programs and nutritional consulting, according to the Global Wellness Institute.  Millennials appreciate subsidized gym memberships, while younger workers appreciate the feeling that their company cares.

It’s important to have leadership and employee buy-in to make it work.  Then continue to revise it, as we have, to meet ongoing and changing employee needs.