Guest Blog: Jerry Noyce, HERO

Culture. It’s the word of the year, according to the folks at Merriam Webster. But in employee health management, culture has been the name of the game for many years. HERO, the Health Enhancement Research Organization, is a non-profit committed to promoting a culture of health and performance through employer leadership and evidence-based health management. I recently had the opportunity to talk about wellness programs at the Action Group’s December member meeting. In case you missed it, here are some highlights. (Members may access the meeting materials here.)

Employee health management, also known as workplace wellness, is growing in popularity. National surveys show that over 90 percent of large employers say they offer a wellness program. Meanwhile, the annual Action Group member survey showed that 90 percent of Minnesota companies surveyed offer a wellness program, and that number is only likely to increase.

Why are employers investing time, money and resources into employee health? Quite simply, because it works. There is strong evidence that employee health risks influence corporate health care costs, in addition to emerging evidence that improving employee health can influence a company’s financial performance. Companies that are ahead of the curve in wellness and seeing the best results, are those that view health as a core business strategy and position it as an investment in human capital. These companies have reported not only seeing a positive financial impact on health care costs, but one recent study reported those with a healthy culture have outperformed the S&P 500 over time.

The ACA reinforced the importance of workplace health and increased the amount of money that employers can use to provide incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs. Regulations have emerged from HIPAA and the ACA that employers are following, but recent legal action filed by the EEOC against several employers based on their use of incentives has employers and the wellness industry uncertain.

Legal action also revolves around whether wellness screenings and assessments are a business necessity, if spouses can be required to meet the program parameters if they are not covered on the company health plan, and what constitutes voluntary participation in these programs.

In the absence of regulations from the EEOC, it’s impossible to say for sure what employers should and should not do to avoid their scrutiny. But we do know that it’s essential for employers to continue to abide by existing regulations. You can find information about how to design a safe, effective and compliant wellness program at http://hero-health.org/outcome-based-incentives/.

In good health,

Jerry Noyce
President & CEO, HERO

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