Building Participation and ROI in an Employee Wellness Program

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media , November 19, 2012

Once employees began participating, though, they were rewarded with less communication. "What I didn't want to do was to make people feel inundated with too many messages from the organization," says LeBlanc. "We did not want to ... upset people and have them get sick of us."

Swedish also works with a wellness technology company, Limeade, that has technological capabilities. Limeade allowed LeBlanc to track whether employees had reached their targets, through regular reports from health records.

Limeade has developed smart phone apps transforming daily health and wellness activities into a game-style approach.  To help Swedish employees meet their targeted goals and earn points from daily behavioral changes, applications track everything from daily nutrition and physical activity to sleep and efforts to manage stress.

Besides the savings to healthcare costs, the wellness program has helped improve employee morale. Regular assessments have shown positive increases in how employees feel about their work. With Swedish Health System's recent moves to partner with Providence Health & Services, a larger system in the Pacific Northwest, LeBlanc says hospital leaders were worried that Swedish employees might feel less significant, but the assessments have shown they are actually taking a little more pride in their work.

Swedish executives are also seeing the return on investment from the wellness program. "I think [executives] will see through the financial results that this effort helps Swedish save money, which in turn could eventually result in improved benefits or better quality of life for Swedish employees," says LeBlanc. "When it comes to having to make these tough decisions about benefits, now we can come together and discuss how we can improve upon our success and increase engagement and participation."

Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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