Community-Oriented Workplace Wellness Programs

posted by AHIP

on July 30, 2018

Best practices for successful workplace wellness programs

  • Use multiple intervention sites in wellness programs
  • Have specific, obtainable target goals
  • Give employees training and tools to create sustainable lifestyle changes
  • Make the program a regular part of the work week
  • Partner with community organizations and create convenience for workers
  • Develop a program that has social and fun aspects

In their quest to reduce health care spending while improving employee health, employers are turning more and more to wellness programs. These increasingly popular tools do more than just shift health costs. They actually reduce them over the long term.

Florida Blue knows the value of workplace wellness programs and developed an innovative approach to address diabetes, one of the most expensive health conditions employers cover. Florida has a higher-than-average rate of diabetes, and as the state’s largest health insurance provider, it could make a real impact in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

The Better You Diabetes Program, offered in both Florida Blue’s commercial and Medicare Advantage plans, is a year-long commitment to helping people lose at least 5 percent of their body weight.

What makes a wellness program successful is when it becomes an active and regular part of participants’ lives. The Better You Diabetes Program does that through weekly sessions during the first six months and at least one session per month in the second half of the year. In these sessions, participants work with health coaches, nutritionists, fitness instructors, and medical providers to develop healthy eating, exercise, and coping skills. Thankfully, best practices like this are becoming increasingly standard across wellness programs.

Florida Blue also invested in patient-centered innovation with Better You Diabetes in conjunction with community-based retail centers and partnerships with community organizations and local businesses. These easily accessible locations, medical professionals, and customer service representatives help integrate the program into everyday life and support Better You participants. On-site nurses conduct preventive screenings, counsel patients, and help participants enroll in classes. Partnerships with YMCAs throughout Florida, Solera Health, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig, allow the Better You program to provide participants the opportunity to find programs that work best for them. On average, between 40 percent and 50 percent of participants who complete Better You Diabetes classes achieve 5 percent weight reduction.

Thanks to Weight Watchers, I’ve lost 10 pounds in four weeks. I am eating healthier, diminishing my cravings for junk foods, exercising, and living a healthier lifestyle. I’ve also made new friends in the process! I am grateful to Marion County Public Schools, Florida Blue, and Solera for offering this program.

– Better You Diabetes participant

This is my first time taking action to get healthier, and I am doing it in a new way. This program is wonderful. I used to do a lot of stress eating, but since joining, I have learned to manage this, and I have lost about 20 pounds. I am so inspired by this program, and I learning a lot that I never knew.

– Better You Diabetes participant

The success of the Florida Blue program shows that innovative wellness programs can and do work. They identify the root causes of high-cost conditions and give employees and their families the tools and opportunities they need to tackle those issues. Even better, they do it in a sustainable way that empowers and educates participants on how to make long-lasting lifestyle changes. Participants aren’t the only ones learning something: Florida Blue discovered their programs were most successful when they were at least a little fun.