Submitted by: Bill Ribble, VP Business Development, Incentive Solutions

Businesses across the U.S. are beginning to recognize the benefits of having Wellness Programs within their organization; including obvious benefits such as curbing the escalating costs of healthcare. Launching a wellness program requires not just strategy; but also long-term maintenance and company wide support in order to ensure the program is both effective and successful.

According to the 2010 UBA Employer Opinion Survey, 99.4% of business leaders analyze and track their corporate health care costs. Of those surveyed, 86.6% recognize the significance of costs on employees. Bill Stafford, Vice President of Member Services and Surveys for UBA, says, “The ability of employers to afford their health care benefits has become more of a factor this year than in our last survey, affecting 44% of employers.” Deenie Robertson, an Executive Health Consultant notes “When clients experience a substantial increase in premiums, they recognize that they need to do something. When they feel they can’t continue to increase premiums and they need to consider new ways to keep costs down, they turn to wellness.”

These costs and premiums obviously aren’t going to go down on their own, and employers will continue to pay for them at the detriment of their profits and sustainability. Annual health care cost increases of 8-14% partnered with other indirect costs (i.e. lost sales and productivity) will only result in disaster if helpful changes aren’t made. A successfully instituted wellness program will positively impact not only these areas, but also other bottom line expenditures throughout the entire organization.

Bear in mind that while these programs do have the potential to help curb healthcare costs and enhance employee morale and productivity, they’re not overnight wonders. They are long-term investments that require the same strategy and support as every other area that impacts a company’s bottom line. Keep in mind, the long term results often exceed the initial cost for the employer and produces healthier and longer lasting employees.