Wellness programs: they sound like a great way to decreasehealth care costs and improve employee productivity, at least on paper. Thereality has proven to be more complicated, with mixed reviews onwhether programs are effective or even target thepopulation most in need of assistance, not to mention concernsabout privacy and what a program can and can'tdo.


The Transamerica Center for Health Studies, in collaborationwith the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces, hascreated a new resource to help.


Their free employer guide, “Finding Fit: ImplementingWorkplace Wellness Programs Successfully” designed specifically forsmall- and medium-sized organizations, does not prescribe onespecific program but offers steps to help employers identify whattype of wellness program is right for them.


“In this guide, we focused on giving employers the tools tomatch their workforce and workplace to their wellness programoptions. Not every wellness program fits every organization,” saysHector De La Torre, executive director of Transamerica Center forHealth Studies. “With this approach, employers can promote employeehealth, increase participation and improve productivity.”


Following a comprehensive review of participation rates andeffectiveness of existing wellness, the guide's creators came upwith eight different program options based on the time andresources available, as well as level of employer involvement:

  • Education Programs – pursued by employees at or outside ofwork

  • Social Community Building by the Employee – engagement in socialactivities to enhance social relationships

  • Social Community Building by the Organization – employer-ledownership of improving the workforce social community

  • Preventive Care Program (Lite) –- health assessments andpreventative screening by the insurance vendor

  • Healthy Habit Development (Lite) – organization-ledinterventions encouraging healthier personal and work-relatedhabits

  • Healthy Habit Development (Enhanced) – physical worksiteenvironment enhancements facilitating healthier workday habits

  • Preventive Care Program (Enhanced) – partnership betweenhealthcare providers and employer leadership to reduce incidence ofserious illness and disease

  • Disease Management – employer investments in on-site medicalclinics and/or occupational health programs

The guide's authors also suggest various ways employers canencourage participation in wellness programs, primarily emphasizingbenefits the program will have for the employee.


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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.