Human Resources

Wellness Programs Combat Rising Health-Care Costs

Helping employees with their health improves morale and lowers CU costs.

April 30, 2012
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Health and wellness programs are on the rise at professional organizations thanks to the many benefits they offer both employees and employers.

Health-care costs are increasing at a shocking rate: They’re expected to rise at twice the rate of inflation in 2012.

Companies that haven’t budgeted for increased costs are looking for ways to somehow limit the costs they’re likely to incur.

More organizations are turning to health and wellness programs as one solution. These programs offer a number of benefits, according to "Credit Union Wellness Programs: Good Health is Good Business," a CUNA Human Resources/Training & Development Council white paper.

Most obviously, healthier employees mean lower health-care costs.

But that’s not all. Healthier employees tend to be happier, more productive, and more likely to perform better. This means operating costs will likely decrease too.

Plus, if employees help their families improve their health, it further decreases costs.

And as an added bonus, offering high-quality programs can enhance your credit union’s image in the community and as an employer.

Implementing a program

When designing a wellness program, the white paper advises credit unions to take these steps:

1. Evaluate your staff’s health. Using employee health assessments and biometric screenings you can determine your credit union’s primary health risks and needs.

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineThis will help you develop your program’s strategy, and will provide data you can use as a reference point when determining future improvements.

2. Keep in mind your credit union is unique. Use the information you gained from initial evaluations, as well as demographic information, when designing your program. 

“Decisions on program types should take into consideration the health risks present in the population along with other factors such as organizational structure and culture, and demographics,” says Hina Vaidya, vice president of business and product development at Summit Health Inc., Novi, Mich.

“Also, simple but critical considerations will be necessary at the outset, such as establishing the best method for the delivery of programs, the type of communications that will be effective and so on,” she adds.

3. Work closely with employees from the outset. Knowing what health initiatives staff consider important and how employees see wellness efforts as a benefit can help determine your program’s strategy. 

NEXT: Factors to consider

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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