Building your wellness roadmap takes time, planning, and commitment

As a small business leader, you are constantly analyzing your benefits programs, taking into account growing healthcare expenditures and the personal health and wellness of your employees. To address this, you may have already taken the first step by joining a wellness program such as CBIA Healthy Connections. The program was designed with this key tenet in mind: To reduce costs, employees need to become engaged in both their healthcare spending and in reducing their health risks.

But remember, while one obvious goal of any wellness program is to reduce costs, it is not the primary message. Wellness is about people and improving their quality of life. Successful programs place heavy emphasis on personal outcomes. Employees benefit from access to fitness facilities, and access to healthcare education and information on topics ranging from stress management and exercise to healthy cooking. Employees also benefit from smoking-cessation courses and materials, and through an understanding of their own personal responsibility in ensuring their health and wellness.

When you integrate wellness and intervention programs, you have the opportunity to educate employees about how the connections between their healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices relate to their premiums and other healthcare costs. And these efforts also are rewarded through improved teamwork, increased productivity, fewer sick days, and enhanced quality and service.

How to get started

It’s already February, and if you’re like most of us, January just flew by. Blink and it will be summer. So, if you’re thinking of implementing a more proactive health and wellness program in 2013, you have to dig in now by identifying initial action steps, setting goals, and implementing your program.

A critical first step is to take advantage of interactive, online health and wellness programs. You’re at an advantage here because as a member of CBIA Health Connections, your company can join CBIA Healthy Connections for free! This program was developed to enhance the health and productivity of employees and support a more complete system of care.

Pulling together members of your team to discuss and build a road map, or plan, is the next step. What do you want to achieve? What is reasonable, given time, costs, the business you’re in and your culture? Will you shoot for the “low-hanging fruit,” or try to implement a more comprehensive program?  Once you’ve had these discussions, and have determined what you can reasonably achieve, you have to establish a timetable and a communication plan for building consensus, promoting action steps, and rewarding successes.

The next step is encouraging your team to complete the free, in-depth health assessment offered through CBIA Healthy Connections. This online assessment yields revealing, yet actionable information for the individual, and can be used to help guide the employee to programs and actions that will address his or her health needs. There’s also a popular incentive:  Each employee who completes an assessment receives a $50 Amazon gift card, and your company is automatically entered into a raffle for a $500 gift card.

Quality educational courses and materials, accessible fitness activities and effective communication are all core components of a successful wellness program. Employers must make the connections between medical costs, health risks and personal responsibility. The more we understand that health risks, many of which are modifiable, drive health utilization and cost, the more effective we can be in helping our employees adjust their behaviors and attitudes toward wellness.

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If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!