COSE WebEd Series: Anatomy of a Perfect Wellness Program

Did you know 80% of a company’s health insurance claims come from only 20% of its employees? Ensure a healthier workforce at your business by following these steps to creating a perfect wellness program.

With an aging population, chronic disease on the rise and insurance premiums increasing, most employers know by now the benefits of a wellness program. But many are often still faced with the challenges of starting one or effectively engaging staff in a plan that works. During a recent COSE WebEd Series webinar titled “Anatomy of a Perfect Wellness Program,” hChoices President Steve Pelton explained what features need to be included in a company wellness program.

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    According to Pelton, 80% of a company’s claims come from only 20% of its employees. So, connecting with the group of people at greatest risk of suffering from health-related issues (and therefore filing health-related claims) is in everyone’s best interests, but doing so can be sometimes difficult.

    Pelton identified the following obstacles companies are facing when it comes to successful wellness programs:

    • motivating the well, not the sick by only offering the bare minimum, such as biometric wellness screenings once a year;
    • inadequate access to health monitoring with secure tracking;
    • insufficient educational opportunities;
    • difficulty building awareness and engagement; and
    • limited time and resources

    Change the conversation

    Companies need to overcome these obstacles by changing the conversation and the tactics used around wellness. Instead of talking with employees about needing to change what claims are filed, managers need to be talking with their staff about why their health is important. It must be an employee-centric approach to discussing wellness.

    An effective, successful wellness program will always be:

    • Inclusive: It can’t only be available to people on the company’s healthcare plan or only for the employees themselves. A good program will be available to everyone in the company, as well as their dependents.
    • Multidimensional: It must include not only the aspects of wellness related to physical health, but should also have financial wellness components.
    • Targeted: Cookie cutter programs don’t address the specific needs of the participants or the employer. Meet participants where they are; some people might already be on the track to good health, while others need more motivation and resources.
    • Personalized: Included in the program should be things that have been needed or wanted in the past by both the employees and employer. Technological algorithms can help deliver a personalized plan that will work best for individual companies.
    • Responsive: Ensure wellness program information is user-friendly and can be accessed across all forms of technology. This will increase participation and is another way to reach out to dependents.
    • Fun: Companies should use challenges, incentives and other engaging tactics to create a buzz about their program.
    • Available 24/7: If people can access it whenever it’s convenient for them, they’re more likely to do it.
    • Visible: The data needs to be made available so that both employees and employers know their effort is paying off. Share results and help spread the effectiveness (and therefore increase participation) of the program.

    Secure third-party help

    Pelton strongly recommends instituting the assistance of a third party to accomplish all of these steps. A HIPPA-compliant outside broker can hold the data on employee health and assist in the company’s wellness goals using technology, employee education and social engagement. He also suggests that companies secure testimonials from people participating in their wellness programs to promote effectiveness and drive participation.

    COSE has partnered up with hchoices to offer a turnkey wellness program called Y’s Choice, which includes such aspects as:

    • health assessments;
    • wellness challenges;
    • reporting and incentive tracking;
    • coaching and dietary consulting;
    • wellness portal and custom learning system; and
    • discounted memberships to YMCA.

    Pelton also explained the Workplace Wellness Grant Program through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, which provides $15,000 to employers wanting to institute a wellness program.

    Like what you see here? We’ve got webinar coverage on a variety of other topics, too! View previous COSE WebEd Series webinars by clicking here.

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    Next up: Creative Talent Attraction and Development Strategies
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  • Creative Talent Attraction and Development Strategies

    Business Week recently recognized the CLE as the hottest IT jobs market in the country and the NEOSA Quarterly Survey shows continued demand for IT talent in the region. Competition for talent is intense. Tech companies need to have strong, talented pools of staff on hand to take advantage of growth opportunities. So, adding staff is critical in the current environment, but developing your current staff is key to success as well. 

    Business Week recently recognized the CLE as the hottest IT jobs market in the country and the NEOSA Quarterly Survey shows continued demand for IT talent in the region. Competition for talent is intense. Tech companies need to have strong, talented pools of staff on hand to take advantage of growth opportunities. So, adding staff is critical in the current environment, but developing your current staff is key to success as well. 

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    But what can your company do about it? What are new, creative ways to attract talent to your company? And what are unique ways that companies are developing their internal talent to fill gaps in expertise or headcount? 

    Listen here.


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    Next up: Drafting and Navigating Your Workplace Sexual Harassment Policy
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  • Drafting and Navigating Your Workplace Sexual Harassment Policy

    Learn what comprises an effective sexual harassment policy and click the link at the bottom of this article for a free sample policy to use at your workplace.

    It appears new cases of sexual harassment have been uncovered weekly—or daily—during the past few months. This trend testifies to a revolution in reporting workplace misconduct, which is itself part of a larger narrative of empowerment in American culture.

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    We see the high-profile cases capturing headlines, but it is important to realize that sexual misconduct in the workplace occurs outside the limelight of the national media as well. Often, victims of sexual harassment in more private work communities are less compelled to come forward. Businesses need to be cognizant of this dynamic and work to craft a sexual harassment policy that empowers victims and promotes the safety and well-being of all workers.

    Below, we discuss the fundamentals of an effective sexual harassment policy.

    Introduce the Policy

    Set the Goals. You should begin by stating the goals of the policy: a safe and inviting work environment, a strong company culture; you should make these goals reflect your company identity. If your workers understand the purpose behind the policy, they are more likely to respect the process.

    Set the Tone. It should be clear that all reports of sexual harassment will be treated seriously and confidentially, involve prompt investigation and that findings of misconduct will be met with zero tolerance.

    Set the Scope. Sexual harassment isn’t limited to the office, nor is it only male-on-female or one co-worker against another; your company’s sexual harassment policy shouldn’t be so limited either. Make it clear that the policy extends to social events and electronic interactions, same-sex and female-on-male misconduct, and misconduct involving not just co-workers but clients, customers, contractors, and visitors as well.

    Lean on the Law

    Prohibitions against sexual harassment have a strong basis in federal and state law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. You should include mention of these and applicable state laws in your company policy.

    Define Sexual Harassment

    A clear picture of what constitutes sexual harassment will put everyone on notice and set expectations for workplace behavior. Define the interactions that are prohibited—not only the physical, but the verbal and non-verbal as well.

    You can, and should, provide examples: use of job-related threats, unwanted solicitations, sexual jokes, gender- or sexual orientation-based insults, sexually explicit electronic communications, suggestive gestures, sounds, and looks.

    Set Complaint Procedures

    Have a Dedicated Team and Channel. Channels for handling sexual harassment complaints should be self-contained and separate from the standard channels for other types of complaints. There is a need here for privacy and timely investigation that demands dedicated resources. The team handling complaints is typically part of the human resources department, but smaller companies without HR will need to designate individuals. It is important to have a gender-balanced team for sexual harassment reporting. Those individuals should undergo sexual harassment management training.

    They should also, where possible, be isolated from professional influences of the regular workplace hierarchy, as sexual harassment is commonly initiated by those in positions of power.

    Outline the Process

    A typical complaint procedure follows these steps:

    • Record dates, times, and facts of the incident
    • Ascertain victim’s desired outcome
    • Discuss resolution process with victim
    • Educate victim on his or her ability to file a complaint outside of the company through the legal system
    • Allow alleged harasser an opportunity to respond to the complaint
    • Discuss resolution process with alleged harasser
    • If resolution process is informal, facilitate a discussion between management and the parties
    • If resolution process is formal, conduct an internal or external investigation which should include interviewing knowledgeable individuals, collection of relevant materials, and creation of a report detailing findings and recommendations
    • Decide an appropriate resolution
    • Follow up after resolution has been handed down
    • Maintain records during each step of the process

    If an investigation reveals misconduct, the company should identify a remedy that is appropriate for both the victim and the harasser. In the victim’s case, an apology may suffice, or a change in work arrangement may be necessary if the victim and the harasser work closely with one another. It is important that the victim has options and a voice in the resolution process. Appropriate punishment for a harasser may be sexual harassment training, wage cut or demotion, suspension, or termination.

    If, on the other hand, an investigation reveals no misconduct, appropriate steps should be taken to prevent future false reporting. This is a delicate situation, as legitimate victims already face strong deterrents to reporting without the fear of being punished for speaking up. However, it is important to acknowledge that even a false accusation of sexual harassment can severely damage an innocent person’s reputation. 

    Execution is Key

    Once you’ve drafted a comprehensive policy, your team needs to execute it accordingly. Procedures should be followed without exception; those designated individuals should not pick and choose which procedures to follow, as inconsistent execution is the best way to undermine a well-written rule.

    Set the tone from day one. It is best practice to require workers to review and sign the sexual harassment policy upon entering employment. This will provide notice and set expectations for day-to-day behavior as well as for what happens should an issue arise. Another great way to ensure that workers remain cognizant of sexual harassment in the workplace is to have periodic training on the subject.

    Remember that it is the company’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment. Establishing effective sexual harassment policies goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

    Mark Turner is senior counsel at The Gertsburg Law Firm. The Gertsburg Law Firm is providing a sample zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy at to use for your business, as an early holiday gift. Please feel free to modify and adapt it to protect your business and your employees. From all of us at The Gertsburg Law Firm, we wish you a safe and pleasant holiday season.

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    Walk the walk: Genuine leadership is key to creating a productive work environment.  If you demonstrate the same drive, passion, and commitment to the goals and vision of the company that you expect from your employees on a daily basis, you will inspire the same from your team. 

    Encourage dialogue: Make yourself available to your staff and keep lines of communication open.  Employees want to be able to speak their minds. By presenting opportunities to share ideas and voice concerns, you help establish trust and respect. On the flip side, be sure to communicate with your team as openly and honestly as possible. 

    Recognize achievements: Consistent recognition of a job well done, whether as a casual mention or as part of a formal employee recognition program, is a great no-cost way to acknowledge an employee's efforts. According to the 2015 Employee Recognition Report by the Society for Human Resource Management, values-based employee recognition programs are helping employers create a stronger culture and more human workplace.

    Offer self-improvement opportunities : Expanding and improving an employees’ skills and knowledge through professional development can benefit your company greatly while enhancing job satisfaction.  Professional development can encompass various learning opportunities, including formal training, certifications and topical seminars and conferences. 

    Incentivize your team: Whether through cash or non-cash rewards, incentivizing your team can boost employee morale and the overall corporate culture.  If pay increases or bonuses aren’t in the budget, consider offering paid time off, flexible work hours, remote work opportunities, employee celebrations, and goal-oriented contests with fun prizes.  

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