Last year, we asked companies applying for the 100 Best Companies to Work For® list to name their top three priorities for 2013. While our list publication ordinarily reflects on what the Best Companies achieved over the past year, this year, we focus on where these forward-thinking, culture conscious companies are headed. It's no surprise most healthcare organizations will be focused on preparing for the Affordable Care Act.
Over the past several years, the Employee Wellness Program has become the new standard at Best Companies, and more broadly with list applicant companies as well. The reasons for this are obvious: rising insurance rates and cost of care, colluding with increased incidents of chronic disease and an aging workforce, necessitate measures for preserving employee well-being and containing expenses.
While the number of companies covering 100% of employees’ health care premiums has steadily decreased from 21 10 years ago, to 12 today, the number of companies offering employees financial rewards or other incentives for participating in wellness programs—undergoing screenings, or maintaining biometric standards—has only increased. While such practices were rare to nonexistent just 5 years ago, in 2013 we saw 55 of the 100 Best Companies offering health incentives. Currently, the largest cash reward offered is $2,600, with the average award coming in at $460. Looking at our entire applicant pool, that number only increases, indicating that companies are willing to share the savings with the people who help net them.
If this is the new standard, why do so many great workplaces intend to keep the focus on wellness? As with most issues, the Best Companies are taking things to the next level. Below are two new trends in employee wellness programs from the 100 Best:
Family Involvement in Wellness Initiatives: In 2013, many of the Best Companies to Work For will expand their wellness programs to include employees’ families as well. At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Family Wellness Program offers families complimentary wellness coaching. Participating families have reported increases in the number of healthy dinners served at home, along with increases in fruit and vegetable consumption by their children. The “Steppin’ For Miles” program at Intuit offers employees and their spouses/domestic partners cash rewards for tracking their movement with a pedometer. Many Best Companies that cover the cost of Smoking Cessation Programs extend that benefit to spouses/domestic partners as well. From coaching programs to fitness competitions, employees’ families will get in on the action.
Expanding Rewards: Wellness programs have been very focused on metrics for which insurance companies reward employers: Body Mass Index, Smoking Cessation, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, and the like. The future will see companies expanding what behaviors are rewarded along with the reward itself. At Devon Energy, employees who select the healthy meal option in the cafeteria enjoy a 20% discount. Selecting that same option at Atlantic Health will earn you points that are redeemable for a meal voucher. At DreamWorks, employees (and their spouses/partners) can receive cash bonuses for logging a specific number of workout hours at the fitness facility of their choosing during a specific timeframe. Group programs, and group rewards are expanding as well. At Hilcorp Energy, all employees enjoyed a reward when the company met a specific wellness goal, enhancing the team mentality behind these initiatives. Fitness competitions, Biggest Loser contests, and even IronMan challenges for those who are already maintaining healthy lifestyle practices, bring employees together around healthy competition. From reductions in healthcare premiums, to cash rewards, gift cards, or in-house points systems redeemable for merchandise, coupons, and other bonuses, the scope of healthy living behaviors, and the rewards offered, will continue to expand.
Download the full article, Trends from the 2013 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®
Leslie Caccamese serves as Senior Strategic Marketing Manager with Great Place to Work® Institute.