I Have The Wellness Secret

Companies (small and large alike) are engaged in a struggle to change unhealthy lifestyles. Each year most employees and most employers make efforts to achieve lifestyle improvement goals. Unfortunately, few individuals achieve their health improvement goals for more than a few months. And, most wellness programs achieve only small changes in overall health behavior within the workforce.

If motivation and intent were all that is required for wellness, Americans would be fit, trim and addiction free. Sadly, this is not even close to being the case. The percentage of Americans who adhere to all four of the most basic lifestyle prescriptions for good health — not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating adequate fruits and vegetables, and getting physical activity — is a dismal 3%.

Employees are demanding greater incentives for participation in wellness programs.  One study of 36 employers found that without an incentive, less than 20 percent of employees completed health assessments.  This study concluded that cash incentives between $200 and $600 were optimal. This “optimal” level of award for health assessments is much more than what most employers spend on their entire wellness program including activities that are designed to help employees change their health practices.

Attention needs to turn to meaningful— not just statically greater than chance or temporary — increases in the prevalence of healthy practices. Employers and employees are convinced that healthy lifestyles are very beneficial and they are equally convinced that it is very difficult to achieve healthy lifestyles. A commitment of resources and enthusiasm will be more likely when people have a reasonable chance of achieving their lifestyle goals.

In Part II will break down how employers need to break down the wellness concept to a more interactive and personalized model.

4 Responses to “I Have The Wellness Secret”

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