In an effort to help employers improve the health of their employees and dependents, the Midwest Business Group on Health is introducing a series of recommendations that are aimed to encourage better design structure, communication and delivery of benefits, wellness incentives and health management activities.

The recommendations are based on evidence provided by the five-year research project, Identifying the Triggers and Barriers to Engaging Employees in their Health Benefits and Wellness Programs, which addresses both employer and employee perspectives on health care and health benefits.

“Employers have invested substantial resources to improve the health of their workforce by offering health benefits, workplace health programs and external health management resources,” ays Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. “Unfortunately, in spite of these investments, many employers experience low program participation and disappointing levels of employee understanding and engagement. We’re working with employers to combat these problems and explore alternative approaches to benefit design and health improvement programs with the intent to motivate employees to be more responsible for their health.”

According to the white paper, an employer should follow these recommendations:

  • Consider the company’s culture when implementing workplace health and benefit programs. Strategies should be in place that build trust, which greatly influences employee participation.
  • Dependents and other family members should be included in wellness communication. This helps them support health improvement as well as behavioral change efforts at home and in their daily lives.
  • Provide “benefits-at-a-glance” resources that address cost comparisons, the actual cost of health services, and benefit and coverage changes that could affect out-of-pocket costs.
  • Rely on the results of clinical screening programs and campaigns to encourage employees to make necessary lifestyle changes.
  • Organize incentives to make them part of the benefit design to maximize the employer’s investment in these resources and promote value to the employee.
  • Include information and resources on resiliency and stress management, which helps employees balance their hectic home and work lives.