Wellness Programs Research Proposal

Pages: 7 (2020 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare

Wellness Programs

In recent years a great deal of attention has been given to the idea of promoting wellness in our society. Throughout the country many people are overweight and suffering from diseases that are caused by obesity. Obesity and illness are two factors that reduce productivity in the workplace and in society as a whole. In addition these issues also cost companies a great deal of money (Harding, 2009). In fact,

"Healthcare costs comprise approximately 1.4 trillion dollars or 15% of the Gross Domestic Product (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2005). In 2002, businesses paid an average of $6,300 per employee or an amount in excess of 42% of payroll expenses for medical benefits (United States Chamber of Commerce, 2004). Lack of employee wellness is very expensive for employers in terms of both costs of healthcare services as well as lost workplace productivity. Losses in worker productivity may be caused by employee job absences for illness, disability and healthcare provider visits (Caruth & Caruth, 2009; 25)."

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According to Caruth & Caruth, ( 2009) the benefits of wellness programs exist for the employees and employers. These benefits are present because wellness programs makes comprehensive healthcare accessible in a way that is the most cost effective and efficient (Caruth & Caruth, 2009). Prior research has indicated that in "most healthcare situations, prevention and early access to care is more cost effective than treatment for chronic illnesses caused by lifestyle choices (Caruth & Caruth, 2009)." For these reasons companies and organizations throughout the country have developed wellness programs.

How Wellness Programs Work

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Wellness Programs Assignment

A wellness program is basically composed of "Services focused on the promotion or maintenance of good health rather than the correction of poor health ("Wellness Programs")." These services can come in the form of stress management programs, on-site health education, free screenings and health club memberships ("Wellness Programs"). The stress management programs that some organizations offer as an aspect of a wellness program is designed to teach employees how to control stress levels. Stress can cause a myriad of health problems including headaches, high blood pressure and other ailments. Stress also impedes on the ability of employees to work in a way that is productive.

As it pertains to free screening some organizations offer free diabetes screening and blood pressure screenings ("Wellness Programs"). Both of the ailments can cause serious health issues including blindness, stroke, heart attack and amputation. In addition treatment for dealing with all of the aforementioned ailments can be astronomical. Many organizations also offer memberships to health clubs (Naydeck et al., 2008). In some instances the health club is located on site and in other cases employees are given free or discounted memberships to local health clubs. The purpose of these memberships is to encourage employees to exercise. Exercise in an important factor in maintaining wellness. Exercise results in lower blood pressure, better cardio vascular health and a reduction in weight and stress levels ("Wellness Programs").

In addition to the aforementioned services some wellness programs are inclusive of smoking cessation programs. These programs are designed to assist employees in their efforts to stop smoking. Along with obesity smoking is a major cause of preventable death. Smoking can also lead to chronic illness such as emphysema. To reduce the numbers of employees that smoke some organizations have begun to offer incentives to those that complete a smoking cessation program. In some cases organizations have gun to extreme measures and actually penalized those that continue to spoke. Such penalties are often inclusive of an increase in the percentage of their health care premiums that they have to contribute. This tactic is designed to get employees to stop smoking so that their overall health will improve and the costs of healthcare of the employer can be reduced.

Notice that maintaining good health is the primary purpose of wellness programs. The maintenance of good health is important for businesses because they are dependent on people to carry out their duties as employees. When people get sick, their ailments are usually preventable. Organizations recognize that maintaining good health is imperative to maintaining steady productivity and a good workplace environment.

There is a certain art associated with providing wellness programs. For instance most organizations make a concerted effort to supply the types of services that will meet the needs of the largest number of employees. In doing this the employees are assisted and the costs associated with the programs are kept low (Mulvihill, 2003). In addition employees are well aware of the fact that health behaviors have an effect upon work productivity. Organizations that have large campuses usually have the space to provide employees with on-site resources such as fitness centers (Mulvihill, 2003). In addition these organizations have the ability to provide on-site professionals that can assist in ensuring that the individual health plans of employees are carried out (Mulvihill, 2003).

The author also insists that dealing with the health of employees can be challenging. This challenge is most evident in the fact that employees will have different needs and no single program is going to be beneficial to all employees. In fact some companies have found that wellness will require the participation if an entire family. As a result of these challenges organizations have a responsibility to engage employees in many different types of wellness opportunities.

"Examples of employers engaging employees in wellness activities include companywide weight-loss contests, virtual communities using Avatars, and heart healthy computer-based programs. Many corporate programs include internet resources, surveys, health risk assessments, e-mail reminders, and internet-based newsletters. Nearly two-thirds of employers offer incentives to encourage employee participation. For example, an employee may get an insurance premium reduction upon completion of a health risk assessment. Cash or other in-kind incentives have also been provided. On the other hand, some employers penalize employees if they engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, being overweight, or not managing high cholesterol by charging higher insurance premium rates. To address the issue that 15% of the population drives 85% of Healthcare costs, the U.S. Department of Labor allows companies to reduce premiums up to 20% for employees who enroll in wellness programs. And in an extreme move to cut costs, some employers have stopped hiring anyone who smokes (Mulvihill, 2003)."

Implementing a wellness program (Core Practices)

The manner in which a wellness plan is implemented can ensure the success or failure of such a program. For this reason it is important that any organization that is considering the implementation of such a program utilize the core practices that have been established by professional in the field. According to Mulvihill (2003) there are five core practices that businesses have to consider when implementing a wellness program. These core practices are inclusive of the following:

1. Program Mission and Management/Employee Support- the program mission should be understood by everyone at the organization from the very beginning. Additionally, the proper amount of support should be available at all levels (Mulvihill 2003). In instances where support is not present wellness programs will inevitably fail. This support comes in the form of accountability and employee involvement. Both of these factors ensure that the wellness plan will be successful (Mulvihill 2003).

2. Strategic Planning- the development of a wellness program must be strategic. A program that is simply thrown together is bound to fail. According to the author, it is best that organizations have an annual plan associated with their wellness programs (Mulvihill 2003). Strategic plans for a wellness program should be inclusive of participation expectations, timelines and evaluation strategies (Mulvihill 2003). Organizations should make a concerted effort to develop goals and aim to meet these goals through the proper use of Strategic Planning (Mulvihill 2003). The author also explains that in most cases the lack of planning results in the failure of the program (Mulvihill 2003).

3. Health screening and risk stratification- These types of screening are often the foundation for most wellness programs for organizations (Mulvihill 2003). Organizations should uses Health Risk Approaisals (HRA) as a diagnostic tool (Mulvihill 2003). With the use of HRA these screenings are viewed as preventative measures and the facts derived from such screening can be used to develop specific wellness programs.

4. Risk-related health management interventions- the aspect of core practices is designed with the expressed purpose of figuring out the health needs of employees and determining which programs will be the most beneficial to implement. The aim of this particular core practice is to develop interventions that will help the largest number of employees. The author explains

"Interventions for low-risk individuals include a variety of "demand management" strategies like newsletters, educational seminars, Web resources, and 24-hour telephonic nurse lines. Examples of high-risk interventions include smoking cessation, weight management and stress management programs, fitness prescriptions, and exercise programs (Mulvihill 2003)."

5. Evaluation and metrics- the fifth and final core practice is to evaluate the program. The purpose of the evaluation is to have a clear picture of the successes and failures of the plan so that improvements can be… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Wellness Programs.  (2009, September 29).  Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/wellness-programs/86922

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"Wellness Programs."  Essaytown.com.  September 29, 2009.  Accessed October 27, 2021.