Wellness programs are found in most businesses in the United States...at least that's what the popular media tells you. We don't disagree with those reports, but agree with a footnote attached. Our footnote would indicate that it greatly depends on your operational definition of "wellness programs". Popular media seems to consider any type of health promotion initiative to be a program. While that's technically true, it's very misleading to the casual reader.
Let me clarify a little what I'm talking about here. Health screening is a common component of a corporate wellness program. Though it is a type of wellness program it is only one part of a comprehensive health promotion program. I'm not sure we're doing a very good job of explaining a distinction that we feel is important.
The problem is that the phrase "wellness program" has become overused. Employers and tens of thousands of companies say that they offer these types of programs. Some are good and others are not worth the time and effort they take. The inappropriate and over use of buzzwords like this cause harm to the industry and to employers trying to attract and retain good employees.
To truly be comprehensive in nature initiatives of this nature must include health risk assessment, biometric testing, health coaching, extensive and meaningful incentives to encourage participation, health challenges and contests and lots of visible, active participation from upper management. They also need to be evaluated more than once per year - to ensure that things are on track. There should also be a measurable and well documented evaluation as to the ROI for each and every initiative you implement. Otherwise you have no way of knowing how well (or poorly) the initiatives are working.
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