Moving Beyond Biometrics

From Data Compilation to Wellness Transformation

Many employers offer free biometric screenings, but too often the wellness effort stops there.

"I see employers who compile a huge amount of valuable health data, and then do nothing about it," says WEA Trust Health Promoter Chris Ceniti. "Employers are missing opportunities to ensure their investments pay off."

Providing biometric screenings - typically tests for cholesterol, glucose levels, blood pressure and body mass index - is an essential first step in creating a healthy workforce. Biometric tests can help employees learn if they are at risk for diseases such as heart disease or other chronic conditions.

As an employer, do you know what steps to take next? Ceniti outlines some ways you can move from data compilation to wellness transformation.

STEP 1: Add meaning to biometric screenings

"What employers can do to enhance the biometric screenings investment is to pay for a health coach," says Ceniti. "The key here is moving the needle from awareness to education."

A health coach can work with your employees one-on-one to help them understand how their lifestyle choices affect their biometric numbers. Simply adding this element to biometric screenings, like the Whitefish Bay School District, can begin to affect employees' health decisions.

Whitefish Bay Director of Business Services Shawn Yde explains, "You see people modify behaviors, just because the biometric screenings are that month!"

STEP 2: Make a game plan

After you collect data from the biometric screenings, you should create what's called a "wellness operating plan." First, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are our wellness goals?
  2. What are our objectives?
  3. How will we measure our objectives?
  4. What interventions can we create to achieve our objectives?
  5. Who will make up our wellness team?

Based on your answers, channel your inner playmaker and create concrete goals. For example, Yde's goals at Whitefish Bay were twofold. "On one front, we wanted healthy, happy employees because they're more productive... From the raw numbers and insurance side, we needed to cut the cost of insurance by getting our at-risk employees healthier."

STEP 3: Encourage at-risk employees

An employee is at-risk if he or she has two or more risk factors, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. "After concentrating on awareness and education, you need to focus on behavioral change for your at-risk employees," says Ceniti. "Combined nutrition and fitness classes, like the Trust's Living Well Program, are most effective."

At Whitefish Bay School District, at-risk employees lost a combined 355 pounds and significantly improved their biometric numbers. "It's just smart business practice to improve employee health," said Yde. "Focusing on wellness was efficient and made good business sense."

What helped make Whitefish Bay's intervention successful? Yde eliminated common barriers like:

  1. Time -Yde offered the Living Well Program in the late spring and summer, overlapping time off work for his employees.
  2. Cost -WEA Trust paid the full price of the 6-month program, while members paid a refundable $25 enrollment fee.
  3. Motivation -Yde introduced an additional financial incentive to the at-risk targets. "For those who participated, they received a (WEA Trust-provided) $25 gift card and their deductible did not change. For those who didn't participate, their deductible doubled," said Yde. "That seems like cracking the whip, but the truth was, the deductibles were going to increase at our renewal if not for the (Living Well) program. This was the only way to maintain the current level of deductibles."

STEP 4: Turn donuts into fruit

This step is about transforming your workplace culture. At staff meetings, swap donuts and bagels for fruit plates. Instead of cake walk fundraisers, opt for fun runs. Make wellness part of your employees' day-to-day life, and the impact of your targeted wellness efforts will sink in - and pay off.

"We've begun to see more of a culture of wellness, and it's led to better employee health," said Yde. "And that was our primary goal all along."

Tags

Wellness Wellness-Plan Employer-Strategy


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