Bell column: Exchanging ideas for wellness

7:14 PM, Dec. 28, 2013  |  Comments
Derek Bell
Derek Bell
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Building a healthy workplace doesn't happen by accident. It is developed, nurtured and planned. Choosing the best wellness programs and services is a complex issue. However, developing a productive and cost-effective wellness strategy is an incredibly satisfying opportunity to help your workforce improve its health, happiness and affinity for its work culture.

The Central Wisconsin Worksite Wellness Network, or CWWWN, brings together professionals to share their experiences and challenges and to engage in discussions that help develop opportunities to build effective wellness programs, services and strategies. This unique community of leaders, vendors, educators and interested individuals meets four times a year to discuss current issues they face in promoting wellness at work.

At this quarter's meeting, hosted by Sentry Insurance, wellness leaders from Central Wisconsin and the Fox Valley shared their program successes and failures to engage in a healthy and productive discussion about how to best build wellness programs that make positive impacts.

What we know is that workplace wellness programs show cost savings. Studies indicate the yield for a quality worksite wellness program is between $3 and $6 for each dollar invested in 2 to 5 years of the program. Moreover, if you combine the medical savings (typically between $3 to $4 per dollar invested in the program) and the cost of time away from work (absenteeism, typically around $5-$7 for every dollar invested in the program), a worksite health promotion and wellness program increases the return on the value.

The real value comes in choosing the right programs and services for your company. Some of the programming ideas that have proven to be successful for Central Wisconsin employers included:

? Executive-led team challenges

? Financial incentive programs with reimbursements for health coverage based on completing health and wellness initiatives like a health screening, annual health evaluation, or routine health and wellness care

? Financial earning programs focused on lifestyle choices

? Nutrition education, including grocery store tours

? Financial wellness programs for employees

? Wellness themed days with vendors, health fairs, events and educational programs

? Smoking cessation classes

? Bringing a farmers' market to employees

? Seasonal themed challenges

? Stretching programs

? Personal and group wellness coaching opportunities

? More personalized programs to cater to individual needs, differing shift workers, and varying age groups and lifestyles

CWWWN also discussed trends in worksite wellness for 2014. On a positive note for the future of wellness, CWWWN employers wanted to focus programming to satisfy a higher quality of life for their employees. This means looking to include more wellness programs that includes family members and young adults to help facilitate wellness, making its way from work to home. By developing more individualized and personalized programs, employers are looking to include more one-on-one and group interactions with health and wellness professionals, as well as expanding wellness outside of health care to more lifestyle-focused programs. The Network concluded that making wellness part of the overall organizational strategy would help develop more well worksites and healthier and happier employees.

If wellness is part of your job, consider joining the Central Wisconsin Worksite Wellness Network. The 2014 calendar is being developed and is available at

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