Columbus, Ohio — Saving money on health premiums should not be the main motivation for starting an employee wellness program, consultant Robert Brogan said at the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors' Environmental Health and Safety Summit July 18-19 in Columbus.
A common sales tactic by suppliers of wellness plans is the promise of reduced costs, Brogan said, but the core problem is that you can't prove future return on investment from healthier employees.
"You can't prove what doesn't happen," he said.
"In my opinion, it works better if you're trying to enhance your benefits and company culture, and that may result in long-term cost control," Brogan said. "Corporate wellness is a complex, long-term play."
Brogan is lead consultant with KBIC Consulting, an Indianapolis firm that gives advice on insurance issues and risk management.
His experience is that companies where cost reduction is the driving force behind wellness plans have less chance of success with the program.
"You're probably not going to be as happy with it if you do it just to save money," he said.
However, it's common sense that healthy employees are more productive, Brogan said.
Brogan advised companies setting up wellness programs to first ask employees what should be included. Instead of dictating activities, give them options and freedom to select what they want to do.
A good wellness program can be "icing on the cake" for employee involvement, he said.
"Be creative," Brogan said. "Corporate wellness shouldn't be boring."