Andy Core, Award-Winning Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
“What should I offer my employees for a wellness plan”? That question is asked of Cypress representatives over and over, year after year. The truth is, there is no one answer, as wellness programs are as diverse as the employers who offer them (or want to offer them). There are, however, some universal truths with respect to wellness that need to be considered by any company looking at offering such a program and Cypress University opens with an energizing session, led by nationally recognized speaker, author, and wellness expert Andy Core that sets the tone to a great conference.
First held in 2012, Cypress University has evolved into a highly anticipated annual conference that focuses on cost containment strategies for self-funding. It features presentations and panels on the latest topics in employee benefits and explores ways to keep health plan costs in check.
With rise of healthcare costs in the United States attributed to public health issues like smoking and obesity, corporate wellness programs have never been more popular. Fundamentally, the simplest way to reduce the cost of care is to prevent as many claims as possible. If people are healthier, they will be less likely to get sick, and therefore less likely to need costly procedures and prescriptions.
However, many companies struggle with gaining and maintaining member participation in a wellness program. If you want people to participate, and have sustained connection with your offering, your program needs two things to your members: clear direction and a personalized approach.
Do you think that most of your population knows that they should exercise, and that it’s worth your time? Of course. So why doesn’t everyone exercise? It’s a behavioral issue, not an information issue. Most wellness programs throw as much awareness information at their groups and hope it sticks. Even if your program is presented with the best awareness campaign, showing people proof that they should eat well and be active, that campaign will only be successful if people aren’t already aware of those facts.
How the wellness information is presented to each member is just as important as the information itself. That first impression is incredibly important. Even people who want information on how to improve their overall wellness can’t handle too much information being thrown at them at once.
Instead of relying on plentiful information, your wellness program needs to be direction based. Show people what they should do, don’t simply tell them how to do it, and offer specific ideas that can fit within their lives. Providing specific, actionable direction to members is the key to a successful wellness program.
Ask yourself: what parts of your wellness program really matter to the individuals in your group? Most wellness vendors want you to believe that you can buy a computer program and everyone will magically adopt new life strategies because of it.
Just like every other part of your self-funded plan, your wellness program needs to be tailored to the individuals in your population. For example – warehouse workers that spend all day on their feet walking around can’t be expected to participate in an incentive program based on steps.
How have we done it? By utilizing a volunteer staff that knows the people behind the organization, and who realize what program elements will actually reach those people. This is the exact opposite of buying an off-the-shelf program and hoping it sticks.
The perspective of real people who interact your members every day is invaluable when generating ideas that encourage sustained particiapation. You need a personalized solution – a program that takes into account the individual needs of your people, just like any other program in your self-funded plan.
The results of a properly implemented wellness program are well documented – including at our own company. By implementing the same wellness plan that we encourage our clients to adopt, Cypress’ employees have become healthier, and we’ve reduced our own plan costs by 13% in the past five years, even being awarded a gold medal WELCOA award. By designing a wellness program tailored to the needs of your own population, you not only save money by incurring fewer claims. You also help keep your employees happy and more productive.