Companies need to start wellness programs as soon as possible, even if that means they're not perfectly mapped out, Flannery said. Simple steps include removing smoking areas, encouraging employees to use the stairs, or starting a weight-loss challenge in which the winner gets a day off, he said.
"There's a misnomer out there that every wellness endeavor you do as a company is expensive," he said. "That's a fallacy."
A wellness program for employees in the Baylor Health Care System reduced the system's health care costs by $4.2 million last year, said Joel Allison, the system's president and CEO. Baylor spent about $2 million on the program, he said.