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Improving Wellness- Money Might Be the Key for Business Owners

Many companies have embraced the emerging trend of offering corporate wellness programs to keep employees healthy. However, some business owners are disappointed with lack of participation by employees or small ROI on fitness programs.

Where are companies going wrong with their wellness programs? Money might just be the key.

“Dollars are everything,” said Mike Miesch, senior vice president of operations for United Wellness Group in Houston.

Plans offering attractive incentives – like $500 a year – increase participation, said Miesch, who recently spoke at a workshop about designing wellness programs that save money.

As wellness programs began to get popular a few years ago, not enough attention was paid to how the fitness activities could actually cut health care costs over time.

The key is tying the programs directly to the bottom line by improving health habits. Help employees avoid chronic diseases and get regular screenings and you will see your ROI increase.

Companies can save between 3 percent and 8 percent of their health-care costs with a wellness program. A key factor is participation – the more participation, the higher the savings.

Money seems to be the best way to get employee’s attention. When companies offered $50 or less to employees to participate in biometric screening, 15 percent consented, according to a employer survey on healthcare costs.

When they offered $101 to $250, the participation rate rose to 54 percent.

But when companies offered over $250, 82 percent of employees were willing to participate.

But don’t go overboard. “If you want to generate return on investment, don’t spend too much money,” said Mike Barbour, who heads the Houston office for health and benefit issues for Mercer.

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Aim for an 8 percent ROI on wellness programs. So,  if the average health-care cost is $10,000 per employee per year, then the maximum the company should spend is $800 per employee per year on wellness.

Barbour recommends spending less than $500 per employee per year if you want to see a positive ROI on wellness programs.

Read the full article here in the Houston Chronicle:

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