PARSIPPANY, N.J., June 10, 2010—As a growing number of employers adopt employee wellness
programs to help control healthcare costs, wellness experts at DSM Personalized Nutrition caution that these programs will languish without appropriate support from senior management or the right tactics to engage the workforce. These tactics include ongoing employee communications, one-on-one health coaching, and encouraging “active commitment” to programs rather than mere participation.
Corporate wellness initiatives have become a key method of controlling benefits costs, which is now the top benefits objective among U.S. businesses, according to recent research from a number of organizations including MetLife. Yet even programs that are rich with features will fail if companies don’t truly engage employees and help them to make lasting, positive changes to their lifestyle behaviors.
“Because people spend so much of their time in the workplace, employers are in a unique position to act as health advocates and change agents,” said Mike Tarino, president of DSM Personalized Nutrition. “Given the escalating costs of healthcare and the widespread incidence of chronic disease in our population, it’s clear that employees need guidance when it comes to their health. The more education and support that employers provide, the more likely it is that employees will embrace change and make lasting behavioral improvements. For employers who want to control costs, creating a culture of health is essential.”
Tarino said that many organizations continue to overlook the importance of their senior leaders in creating an effective culture of health. “The endorsement of programs by senior management is not enough—not if you want to maximize the results of your programs. Your leaders must also become visible ambassadors of your programs. Leading by example is a powerful motivational element.”
Leaders demonstrate their commitment to a culture of wellness most clearly by their actions: personally participating in programs, for example; setting and living up to their own health goals; creating an annual company-wide exercise target; and by approving other health-related initiatives such as improving healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines or by providing complementary, nutritional snacks.
Using sound employee engagement tactics is equally important to creating a culture of wellness and getting program results. These tactics include:
• Ongoing employee communications—should be delivered on an ongoing basis and through a variety of channels for maximum impact. Consider using email messages, posters and tent cards in break rooms and cafeterias, payroll stuffers, letters from senior managers to employees and family members, etc. Use the channels that have proven to be effective for your organization in the past. And be sure that information you share is actionable and relevant to the specific challenges faced by your employee population.
• One-on-one health coaching—significantly improves the power of your program to deliver results. One-on-one coaching, for example, has proven to deliver 2-½ times more weight loss for participants than information-only, web-based programs. With guidance from a credentialed expert—such as a registered dietician who is well-trained in behavior change techniques—employees are far more empowered to make meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes.
• Encouraging “active commitment” from employees—which is quite different from mere program participation. Employees who are actively committed to programs become your greatest advantage, as they openly support and inspire their colleagues. They help to build your culture of wellness from the grassroots level. Encourage this kind of active commitment through departmental recognition and personal incentives such as gift certificates or other rewards.
“While there is no shortcut to creating a culture of health, these strategies will pay huge dividends to employers who are willing to take the time and make the effort,” Tarino said. “With the right support, employees can make the kinds of lasting improvements to their lifestyles that generate sustained cost savings and enhanced levels of workplace productivity and satisfaction.”
Those interested in more information on program engagement and building their wellness programs on proven strategies can learn more at www.DSMPersonalizedNutrition.com.
About DSM Personalized Nutrition
DSM Personalized Nutrition is a U.S. based subsidiary of DSM (Euronext:DSM), a global leader in nutrition. Its GPNS™, Global Personal Nutrition System™, is a comprehensive, nutrition-based health and wellness program offered to employers as part of a whole-health approach to reducing health care costs, improving productivity, and positively affecting employee morale. GPNS is designed to help employees achieve their specific health goals, and improve their health, by implementing small, yet meaningful dietary and lifestyle changes. www.DSMPersonalizedNutrition.com.
DSM — the Life Sciences and Materials Sciences Company
Royal DSM N.V. creates solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance. Its end markets include human and animal nutrition and health, personal care, pharmaceuticals, automotive, coatings and paint, electrical and electronics, life protection and housing. DSM manages its business with a focus on the triple bottom line of economic performance, environmental quality and social responsibility, which it pursues simultaneously and in parallel. DSM has annual net sales of about 8 billion and employs some 22,700 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in the Netherlands, with locations on five continents. DSM is listed on Euronext Amsterdam. More information: www.dsm.com.
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