Top 10 Corporate Wellness Program Mistakes

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If you’re grappling with low participation and minimal results in your organization’s wellness program or aren’t sure how to make your initiative more successful, you may be making some critical oversights. Here are the top 10 corporate wellness program mistakes.

1. No budget

Many organizations plan to create a wellness program without allocating the resources they need, especially a budget. A wellness initiative can be a major undertaking and adequate funding, staffing, and resources are all critical to a successful program. It’s unlikely that you will be able to see any meaningful results without investing any money or resources into a wellness initiative.

2. Limited interest

Many wellness programs fail because employees have limited interest in the activities or wellness in general. Thus, it’s important to identify the activities in which employees have interest to determine those that may generate better participation, as well as find creative ways to generate interest in wellness (incentives, social activities, contests, etc.). Without participation, you likely won’t achieve any significant behavior change.

3. Assuming that one-size-fits-all

No two employees have the same body, strength, or motivation and likewise not all employees need the same type of help with wellness. Some may need assistance with nutrition and others with fitness. Even within these buckets, employees will vary in terms of their level of fitness/wellness (i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced). Offer a variety of options and resources so that you can meet the needs of your employees’ many interests, needs, and levels of health.

4. Offering just a few wellness activities

A wellness program is more than just offering an on-site fitness class, annual fair, flu shots, and an occasional seminar. These are wellness activities rather than a comprehensive wellness program. While activities are critical to a wellness initiative, activities alone will rarely create the behavior and lifestyle changes that you are probably seeking. The activities you choose should be connected to the behaviors you want to change in your workforce and the needs of your employees.

5. No connection to your benefits strategy

Wellness programs with no strategy or goals lack direction. Too often, they may not be linked or connected to benefits plans or business strategies, or may be perceived as an extraneous benefit by employees. It’s important to consider the reasons why you are creating the wellness program in the first place and the purpose it serves your business in order to measure whether or not you are meeting its goals. It’s equally as important to make sure that employees see the connection between the wellness program and these strategies.

6. Limited support from senior management

We don’t just mean support for the program’s budget. Senior management needs to buy into your wellness program and participate regularly. They must to be visibly “walking the talk” when it comes to wellness, and most of all, they need to care about employee well-being and recognize how it affects the business. It tends to undermine the success of the program when employees don’t see that their leaders care about wellness.

7. Failing to target high-risk employees

While it’s important to try to engage all of your employees in your company’s wellness efforts, be especially concerned with those that are high-risk. Every organization has some employees who are driving their claims more than average employees. Without engaging these employees to participate, you may not see the results you want. Be prepared to provide targeted resources and support to these employees to help them make critical lifestyle changes.

8. Not changing the little things

By “little things,” we mean the nuances of your culture. If you want employees to take wellness seriously, you’ll need to impact the “little things” in your organization that impede your efforts to create a healthy place to work. These could include replacing soda vending machines with healthy drink options; changing food choices at meetings and staff functions; allowing flexible schedules to work out; and getting rid of traditional morning donuts. If wellness is truly a priority, you have to exemplify that throughout your entire workplace.

9. Lack of change and reinforcement

Over time, employees’ enthusiasm for your wellness program will fluctuate if you don’t keep the program fresh. If new activities and components are not constantly being integrated into the program to maintain employees’ interest, it may be difficult to motivate continued participation. Similar to other workplace initiatives, continue to change and adapt the program over time.

10. Doing it alone

Many organizations try to launch a wellness program with just their own internal staff and the assistance of their health insurance carrier and neglect to use outside experts and vendors. The reality is that designing a wellness program usually requires expertise and experience beyond the traditional HR function. As a result, it’s good practice to select outside resources and support that can help a wellness program succeed. There are many vendors which not only offer assistance with program design, but also provide a variety of tools, services, and products to support and complement your program. 

Corporate wellness programs can be incredibly beneficial to workplaces, driving down health insurance costs, engaging your workforce, and ultimately creating healthier employees. Keep in mind, however, that just a few mistakes can potentially prevent a wellness program from generating the results you want and need for your business.

Additional Resources

For more information about health and wellness from ERC Health, click here.

Health Care Trends for 2012

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Open-enrollment and budgeting season are upon many organizations and the trends are similar to previous years: rising costs, shifts in plan design, increased emphasis on wellness and health management, and greater employee accountability – but with a few positive surprises. Here are some major health care trends that had effects on organizations in 2012.

Health care costs are still rising, but are slowing.

Several studies conducted by Mercer, Towers Watson, and Segal, have found that health care costs will continue to rise in 2012 by approximately 5.4-7.6%, but there is solid evidence that costs are slowing from the past few years. 

Cost-shifting to employees is slowing from past years.

As a result of lower increases in health care costs, experts believe that cost shifting to employees will slow as well in 2012. This trend coupled with slower health care cost increases is likely attributable to more cost sharing practices that have occurred over the past few years and wellness initiatives that many employers are using to manage health care expenses.

Healthcare utilization seems to be trending downhill.

Other positive news is that healthcare utilization is trending downhill. Employees are using fewer medical services, mainly due to wellness and health management programs and choices to postpone medical visits and procedures due to higher health insurance costs (co-pays, deductibles, etc.) and lower disposable income.

High deductible and health savings plan options continue to increase in popularity.

Employers are placing more accountability on individuals in terms of spending their health care dollars and managing their health by integrating a Health Savings Account (HSA) option in their benefits packages. Similarly, high deductible plans are quickly becoming a chosen plan design for many employers.

Greater individual accountability for health continues to increase.

In addition to modifying plan design, employers continue to offer tools to help employees take responsibility for their health including health risk assessments and screening. Many have also turned to incentives to promote the healthy behaviors they are seeking.

Employers are re-evaluating their benefits strategies.

Organizations continue to be concerned about the sustainability of health insurance costs on their businesses and are re-evaluating their benefits strategies for the short and long term, focusing on benefits that are most valuable to their employees including health care, retirement, and lifestyle benefits.

More employers are exploring narrower options and access.

More small and midsize employers are considering swapping lower premiums for narrower access to providers and changing their approach to providing benefits for dependents. Out-of-network options are also coming at a higher price. These three areas appear to be the most common tradeoffs employers are making in order to keep premium costs manageable.

Health management will remain a critical priority for employers.

Organizations aren’t planning to decrease their wellness efforts anytime soon. In fact, in 2012 and beyond, employers can expect that health management and wellness programs will increase and continue to be a priority as they attempt to control health care costs. Employers will be focusing on greater prevention of health conditions by exploring ways to integrate wellness initiatives into their benefits strategy.

As your organization plans its health care strategies for 2012 and negotiates its renewal rates, keep these trends in mind to ensure that your organization manages its health insurance costs effectively in the short and long term.

Sources: Mercer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Segal, Towers Watson, WorldatWork

Court: Employers Have Right to Enforce Leave Policies

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Nearly half of all HR professionals say they’ve approved FMLA leave requests even though they believed the requests weren’t legitimate, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey.

If you think employees are violating your policies, what can you do? One court ruled in May 2011 that you can fire such an employee - but first make sure you have the right policies in place.

The corporate office for the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the country’s largest telecom union, distributes a policy manual to employees that includes a sickness and absenteeism policy. CWA requires employees who accept wage replacement benefits while on medical leave to remain in the immediate vicinity of their homes.

In the case Pellegrino v. CWA, Denise Pellegrino spent two weeks at home, post-operatively and was on concurrent FMLA and paid sick leave - that was before she left home to go to Cancun, Mexico. According to CWA's sick leave policy, employees on leave may not leave their local area without written permission from the company unless seeking medical treatment or conducting "ordinary or necessary activities directly related to personal or family needs."

When CWA officials learned about Pellegrino's trip, they terminated her. She sued, claiming the termination interfered with her right to FMLA leave.

Although the court agreed Pellegrino's leave was protected, it found CWA had a right to enforce its leave policies.

CareWorksUSAsuggests the following to employers:

  • Have a clear sickness and absenteeism policy. CWA would not have been able to terminate this employee without a clearly written policy.
  • Distribute the policy to each employee. In this case, the court noted the employee in this case had received the policy.
  • Consistently enforce the policy. Consistently enforce the policy across your workforce.

(Pellegrino v. CWA, W.D. Pa., 5/19/11)

For more information, contact: 

Scott Vaka
Phone: 614-760-3536
Email: scott.vaka@careworks.com
Website: www.careworksabsence.com

Employers Tend to Pay Shift Employees More

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Employers Tend to Pay Shift Employees More

The results of the 2011 ERC Pay Differential Survey show that Northeast Ohio employers tend to pay shift employees more than non-shift employees, specifically those that work second and third shifts.

Sixty-six percent of employers offer shift differentials for second shifts on weekdays and 55% provide shift differentials for third shifts on weekdays.

Organizations typically provide a flat premium amount per hour as a pay differential, and on average, provide a larger pay differential to employees working weekday third shifts than employees on weekday second shifts.

Employers reported providing the largest pay differential to production, maintenance, and service leads or group leaders on both weekday second and third shifts.

Employees in non-standard shifts experience more challenges such as disrupted sleep cycles, difficulties maintaining family routines, and less social exposure than weekday first shift employees.

As a result, pay differentials are a useful tool that employers can use to incent employees to work second and third shifts or recruit employees for these roles.

View ERC's Pay Differential Survey Survey Results

This survey reports on common pay differentials from Northeast Ohio employers for hourly employees, including shift differentials, lead premiums, overtime, and on-call pay practices.

View the Results

4 Signs of a Struggling Manager

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Employers frequently find themselves unaware of struggling managers before they end up causing deep-seated issues in departments like turnover, distrust, disengagement, and under-performance. Here are 4 observable and measurable ways that you can determine whether your managers are struggling on the job before it’s too late.

1. Morale shift.

Take a look at the morale of the department and you can tell who is an effective manager and who isn’t. For example, are employees engaged or just going through the motions? Do employees seem happy? Has there been a marked shift in attitude? Do employees feel valued and appreciated? Is there a strong team atmosphere or is collaboration lacking? That’s not to say that other organizational factors may not influence morale, but a manager can strongly influence morale even in spite of these factors if they are doing their job right.

2. Level of interaction.

How often do managers interact with their employees to communicate, provide feedback, thank or praise them, and learn about them as individuals? Do you ever see managers working side by side with their employees? If one-on-one interaction does not occur at least weekly (or better yet – daily), this may be a symptom of a problem. Be wary of the manager that hides out in their office for hours at a time or spends 90% of their time in meetings as they are probably not spending enough time interacting with their employees.

3. By the numbers.

Numbers usually illuminate a struggling manager better than anything else. For example, how many individuals have gotten recognized by their manager in the past year? What do promotion and internal mobility rates look like within the department? Are employees reaching their goals? How many employees received improved performance ratings from last year? What was the average pay raise or bonus in the manager’s department or work group? How much time are employees spending on development? These are just a few of many numbers and HR metrics that can tell you which managers may be less effective than others.

4. Work systems.

The most prevalent way that you can identify who may need help with management is by taking a look at their systems or symptoms of system issues. For example, if employees are confused about expectations, directions, or work assignments; working plenty of extra hours or overtime to get their job done; or report not having the resources to get their jobs done, there’s probably a problem with the manager’s systems of managing work.  Similarly, if employees don’t seem challenged, act bored, or feel micromanaged, there’s likely an issue with the manager’s approach to delegation.

So before management problems get the best of your organization, be sure you’re observing and measuring these things to determine whether some of your managers could do their jobs more effectively.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series

This series provides participants with practical skills, tools, and strategies to advance their supervisory skills, enhance their effectiveness as supervisors, lead employees with confidence, and execute results. Specifically, participants will learn how to lead and manage change, build and work with teams, and manage generational differences and diversity. They will also explore the skills of problem solving and decision making as well as managing day-to-day work through delegating, planning, and managing time.

15 Steps to Controlling FMLA Claims

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CareWorks USA has outlined 15 action steps employers can take that will help them control intermittent claims and control costs associated with intermittent absences.

  1. Clearly spell out your FMLA policy in the employee handbook.
  2. Clearly spell out your policy on intermittent leave for bonding after birth or placement (yes, the employer has a choice whether to allow this.)
  3. Run your FMLA concurrent with other applicable benefits.
  4. Check Eligibility every new 12 month period.
  5. Require Certification & Ensure the Certification is complete and legible.
  6. Conduct a thorough review of the medical information ~ a medical professional such as a nurse can be critical in understanding the medical jargon written on the certification.
  7. Include medical clarification in your review as necessary.
  8. Require a Frequency & Duration on Certification.
  9. DOL has given Employers the right to require employees to submit certification every 6 months - Certify claims for 6 months.
  10. Make employees accountable - Require them to report every FMLA occurrence.
  11. Ask your employee questions about his or her leave – every occurrence if necessary.
  12. Temporarily transfer the employee to an alternate duty position while on leave.
  13. Seek Fitness for duty - Employers can now conduct fitness for duty on intermittent cases (in association with an absence.)
  14. Utilize 2nd & 3rd opinions when appropriate.
  15. Partner with a vendor like CareWorks USA to help with administration, tracking and medical clarification.

Visit http://www.careworksabsence.com/leave-administration/ for more information on Family and Medical Leave Act.

Fast facts about Section 408(b)(2)

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Section 408(b)(2), a 2012 regulation for retirement plan fiduciaries enacted by the Department of Labor, was effective Jan. 1, 2012. Here are some fast facts about 408(b)(2):

  • It affects all retirement plan fiduciaries, including plan sponsors and investment committee members.
  • It requires plan sponsors to understand all fees and expenses associated with their retirement plan.
  • It requires plan sponsors to have a contract or agreement, in writing, with their service providers disclosing all fees associated with your retirement plan, and it must be reasonable.
  • It requires plan sponsors to make sure services being performed are necessary to establish and operate a qualified plan.
  • It requires plan sponsors to make sure no more than reasonable compensation is paid for services performed, and their fees are competitive within the marketplace.
  • It requires service providers to provide full fee transparency not only to plan sponsors, but also to each plan participant.

Information provided by Oswald Financial.

 

7 Ways to Use HR Metrics

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Using HR metrics and data can be a useful strategy to uncover areas of opportunity and improvement, establish yourself or department as a strategic partner, and demonstrate your case when recommending new courses of action or programs. Here are 7 ways to effectively use HR metrics in your organization.

1. Have the right data…at the right time.

It’s important to track information and be able to present data and metrics. You never know when this data will be needed by you or your management team, so track well and often. Any analyst will speak from experience that being prepared with the numbers people are looking for is the key to success. You may not need to calculate or showcase them regularly, but have the information readily available so that you can tabulate the metrics when they need to be presented. Have the right data and the right time, and you’ll be hero in your business.

2. Select the most meaningful metrics.

There are plenty of metrics to consider, but not all of them are created equal. For example, consider turnover, which many HR professionals rely on to tell the whole story of their workplace’s effectiveness. Turnover can be measured in a number of ways – new hire turnover, voluntary turnover, and involuntary turnover, among others; but for some organizations, turnover isn’t a meaningful metric.  Sometimes it’s too non-specific. Additionally, it may not affect the bottom line or business objectives. A good rule of thumb when selecting metrics is to: Track what is valued. Track what is actionable. Track what best tells the story of what’s happening in the workplace.

3. Remember to measure the intangibles.

You may think that many aspects of HR can’t be measured because of all of the intangible aspects of the workplace, such as quality of relationships between employees and their supervisors, engagement or commitment, culture, or even trust in leaders. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many “softer” aspects of the business that can be measured accurately through a variety of means, including observation, surveys, and assessments. Sometimes these “intangibles” can also manifest themselves in objective data.

4. Speak the language of management.

Know what your management values. When presenting metrics data to back your decisions, speak the language of your managers and executives. If their focus is budget impact, industry comparisons, cash flow, sales, and/or revenue, be sure to convey how your data impacts all of these. With managers, specifically, make the information meaningful to their specific segment of the workforce.

5. Keep it simple, but insightful.

It’s rarely about how many numbers you have and how complex they are, but rather the impact of these and the insights you have gleaned from them. Make the information simple to understand and preferably visual, but useful and practical. Complement your numbers with concrete examples and try to always include a comparison – an external or internal benchmark – to help stakeholders understand what the numbers mean.

6. Connect the dots.

Connect the dots by explaining how your numbers and information relate. Explore relationships between data points and current workplace processes and programs (i.e. how a performance management process is linked to improved performance ratings, how training programs are linked to higher product quality, etc.) as managers and executives alike may not see the relationships between these. You must translate these relationships into actionable items, explaining how the data point can be impacted or improved.

7. Don’t assume you need an HRIS.

There’s no question that an HRIS can be a very useful tool for efficiently collecting metrics, but it’s not the only way and plenty of organizations use simple Excel spreadsheets to collect information. Don’t let not having an HRIS or other fancy dashboards and tools stop you from measuring important aspects of your business and workforce that will boost the effectiveness of your HR department.

There are countless HR metrics and data points, but more importantly than collecting these metrics is being able to use them effectively to help advance your career, department, and organization.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for HR metrics as well as information and examples of HR best practices, check out our NorthCoast 99 Winner Reports, a comprehensive benchmark report that helps you compare your workplace against the top ones in the region and also provides employers with great ideas and information for how to improve their workplaces.

When To Get Your Flu Shot

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourages people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May.  For a typical flu season, vaccination should begin in mid-October, assuring strong immunity throughout the season.

Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. Over the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can provide protective benefit.

In addition, there are other people who may benefit from seasonal flu vaccination as late as April or May, even if influenza viruses are no longer circulating in the United States. This includes:

  1. Persons likely to be traveling to the Southern Hemisphere where influenza may be circulating and
  2. Children younger than 9 being vaccinated for the first time who still have not received their second recommended dose of vaccine. Studies have shown that two doses are needed in children younger than 9 the first year they are vaccinated in order to maximize the protective benefit from vaccination.

For more information, please contact Gary Walker
Phone: 216-767-8985
Email: gary.walker@uhhospitals.org
Website: UHhospitals.org/EmployerSolutions, University Hospitals is a preferred partner of ERC.