A Culture of Inclusion in Worksite Wellness
By: Allison Hoit
It’s time for that weekly staff meeting which can range from one to many hours of conversation, reporting, strategizing and most importantly a lot of sitting. Deciding to become a wellness champion, you suggest a Moving Meeting to get some physical activity, maybe natural vitamin D and spark creativity with coworkers. In addition to providing more movement throughout the workday, you have also helped to lower your coworkers’ risk of cardiovascular disease and other causes of mortality by reducing their sedentary time.
Moving Meetings, among many other wellness strategies, can become a part of your worksite’s culture. Employee wellness programs are gaining speed in corporate America providing benefits to employers such as reduced health insurance costs, as well as benefits to employees, such as increasing access to necessary health screenings. The latest data shows a Return on Investment (ROI) for employers to be $6 for every $1 spent on workplace wellness. In a recent research report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of HHS and conducted by RAND Health, it was noted that almost half of employers in the U.S. are offering wellness program initiatives. The report also noted that meaningful improvements were seen in exercise frequency, smoking and weight control for wellness program participants compared to nonparticipants.
Within the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employee wellness programs are supported as a means of reducing chronic illness by improving health and controlling health care costs while protecting consumers from unfair practices. Final rules regarding employee wellness programs, which support and further outline guidelines for two types of wellness programs, were released in May 2013 and become effective in January 2014. These include participatory wellness programs that are available to all employees without requirement to meet a health-related standard and health-contingent wellness programs where a reward is offered to individuals who meet a health-related standard. The final rules go further for health-contingent wellness programs outlining five additional requirements to limit health status discrimination. Click to read the entire final rules regarding employee-based wellness programs.
In regards to providing wellness for all employees the final rules consist of terminology such as “reasonably designed”, “uniform availability”, and “reasonable alternative standards”. These phrases protect consumers from being discriminated against in relation to health status and allow employees with medical conditions, which may or may not include employees with disabilities, to equally receive wellness-related rewards. It is also important to note that the final rules do not override other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires reasonable accommodations for employees with known disabilities to allow them to participate. Employees with disabilities are more likely than their coworkers to have secondary health conditions; therefore adding a level of inclusion to worksite wellness programs is both the smart and right choice.
Continue reading for some tips to get you started...