27th April 2011
The health and wellbeing of the Australian workforce significantly varies depending on the sector, geographical location, and size of organisations. Hence budgeting for your workplace wellness program can become challenging at times.
However, there are a few factors to consider before focusing on your budget. The first one is whether you want your corporate health program to target high risk individuals or to be an all inclusive program.
One of the seven best practices (the seven ‘C’) recognised by The Wellness Council of America is for organisations to identify high risk employees and provide targeted interventions based on the identified health risks. This best practice has been identified as a short term key for successful workplace wellness programs.
On the other hand, by only addressing health issues from a selected group of high risk individuals, the holistic principle of wellness based on a proactive more than a reactive approach to health (prevention is better than cure) is not respected. Therefore, focusing on those who need health interventions without including those who currently don’t but may in the future is going against the wellness principle. Moreover, by focusing on a small group of individuals, a targeted wellness program will not generate interest from the broader population and will not encourage employees to get involved and look after their health. It will therefore have a negative impact on the workplace health, and consequently on the overall population’s health.
In the early 1990s, workplace health promotion has reoriented its focus to be more holistic and integrative by addressing both individual risk factors and the broader organisational and environmental issues. By making wellness programs an integrated part of a workplace culture, instead of conducting programs aimed at changing individuals, it does encourage a new concept of health-promoting workplace. Health-promoting workplace benefits the employees, their families, the workplace itself, and the environment.
In addition to the above, the actual costs of your workplace health programs also depend on a few other factors:
• Are you going to run the corporate health programs in-house or will you hire a health provider to do it for you?
• Are you planning to run a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) prior to designing your workplace program?
• Will you include health or life coaching?
• What type of employee health checks will you conduct?
• What kind of incentives will you be providing, if any?
The good news is that the full cost of your workplace health program doesn’t need to be carried entirely by your organisation. While you are expected to pay for the most important cost of the program, your staff can often share expenses on different wellness activities or classes. Various studies have shown that by asking staff to pay a certain amount or percentage toward a health activity, it helps them take ownership of their health, make them more accountable, and therefore greatly improve the success of the program.
So once again, how much should you spend for your Corporate Health Program? This question was asked to a few American workplace wellness experts from The Wellness Council of America, and from Cornell University Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, and their responses varied from US$100 to $400 per employee per year, depending on whether incentives and health coaching were included, and depending on how much savings and positive ROI you expect.
Hence, you can run an effective employee wellness program for anywhere within this range. With good planning, assistance from an external corporate health provider, an in-house workplace health program can be very effective, easy to offer, and affordable.
For more information on Corporate Health Program, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888) or contact us.