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Creating sustainable wellness programs to see ROI.

Provide additional benefits employees want.

Many employers believe that by offering weight loss contests or gym discounts they are implementing a wellness program. Although these measures are a good starting point, they are not a true wellness program. To see a positive ROI on your wellness program, you have to design and implement a plan based on long-term strategies, specific trends, and participation.

Strengthen employee health.

A program that is designed to bend medical trends must help educate employees on their specific needs and position and communicate ways for employees and their dependents to improve chronic diseases. While it’s extremely important to have employees know their health status on an individual level, the step where most company wellness programs fall short is not having a strategic plan around the company’s aggregated data.

Steps to develop a successful wellness program.

Create the culture.

A commitment from the top (buy-in from upper management) is critical to the success of any wellness initiative. Management must understand the benefits of the program for both the employees and the organization and be willing to commit sufficient funding.

The creation of a wellness team will ensure the success of the program by implementing the program and educating the employees.

  • Lower health care costs, due to a healthier workforce and improved disease management.
  • Enhanced recruiting by attracting the most talented workers
    Reduced absenteeism and improved productivity.
  • Improved on-the-job time utilization, decision making, and productivity.
  • Improved employee morale.
  • Reduction in turnover.

Assess and analyze.

During this step, baseline data will be gathered to help assess employee health interests and risks, which will guide you in crafting your program. This process may involve a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments (HRAs), biometrics, and claims analysis to determine current employee disease risk. A true wellness company will put together predictive modeling based on health risk assessment with biometrics, and medical and prescription claims. Predictive modeling will allow an employer to glimpse possible future risks/claims based on the above three metrics.

Program plan.

An annual operating plan is important for your program’s success and should include a mission statement along with specific, measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives. A written plan also provides continuity when members of the wellness committee change and is instrumental in holding the team accountable to the goals, objectives, and timeline agreed upon.

  • Links wellness initiatives to company needs and strategic priorities.
  • Legitimizes the program, which increases the likelihood of continued resources and support.
  • Provides continuity for the program when personnel changes occur.
  • Serves to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

It’s imperative to create a budget and decide how to incentivize employees to participate.


Now is the time to put all your planning into action. The health initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data (survey, HRA aggregate report, claims) and be cohesive with your goals and objectives. They should address prevailing risk factors in your employee population and be in line with what both management and employees want from the wellness program. To ensure high participation, the employer will want to make sure employee incentives are in place. Implementing a wellness program requires careful planning to ensure your company can reap the benefits of workplace health promotion: healthier employees, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, a boost in morale, and reduced healthcare costs. All these benefits will contribute to keeping the company’s bottom line fit and healthy.


During this step, we’re diving into several measures. First, we’re evaluating feedback from the employees about the overall program. Secondly, through analytics and biometric collections, we’re evaluating future health trends of our program compared to a year ago. Lastly, we’re evaluating a number of individuals that have moved from high risk to medium or low risk. Overall, we are determining the effectiveness of the program.

Ongoing success.

The last step to ensure the future success of your program is to continually monitor employee feedback on the program and evaluate ROIs every year. It’s important in this step to celebrate and recognize not only the group but specifically the managers for their efforts as we reach certain goals.

At Watkins, we understand that every client’s specific needs are different and that no one wellness program fits every client. We work hand-in-hand with our clients in analyzing data such as the following.

  • Claims/Rx/HRA Analysis
  • Biometric Screening Data
  • High Claims Utilization Data
  • Prognosis of Claims

We’re happy to talk through the details of your new or existing wellness plan. Contact us to learn more.

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