As companies look for new and innovative ways to contain the rising cost of healthcare, implementing a worksite wellness program is often considered one strategy. In recent times, however, wellness programs have garnered a reputation of being both costly and ineffective. Nabholz Construction has put that theory to rest.
In January 2007, the Nabholz executive team introduced a wellness program to help the company, employees and their families cope with the rapidly increasing costs of medical care and health insurance. The program started off a little rocky which prompted the leadership to move from a “points” based system to a “results” based program. The five areas of emphasis were and still are: nicotine use, obesity, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol.
Employees and spouses receive monetary incentives based on their results in each category. This simple method has propelled engagement from a dismal 14 percent under the “points” system to 100 percent participation under the “results” based system. This approach places the responsibility on the employee/spouse holding them accountable for their own health. In turn, allowing the wellness team more time to develop relationships, provide awareness and help support employees and spouses.
The executive level support and innovation has been instrumental in the continued success of the wellness program. A wellness department was conceived with the hiring of a full time Physician Assistant/ Wellness Director who reports directly to the CEO and is separate from HR. This helped facilitate a high level of trust by employees and spouses to the wellness team. In addition to the PA-C/Wellness Director, the current team consists of a medical doctor, medical assistant, bilingual dietitian and personal trainer. In addition to the wellness program, Nabholz has an on-site clinic located at their headquarters in Conway along with 14 near-site clinics at no cost to employees and their families.
Often asked about benefits and the financial return, it’s impressive! In the past eight years Nabholz premiums have only increased a total of 13 percent or an average 1.62 percent per year. High blood pressure and cholesterol have fallen from 40 percent to 15 percent and 46 percent to 26 percent, respectively. Tobacco users have dropped from 49 percent to 26 percent. The number of employees whose weight was above 200 pounds has decreased from 55 percent to 40 percent. The results seen are due to empowering our people to be responsible for their health and then supporting and educating them when they are ready for change.
The Nabholz program also earned the attention of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with the release of their white paper and follow up filming of Nabholz as part of their Workplace Health Resource Center. HBO featured Nabholz in their documentary titled: Weight of the Nation to address the obesity epidemic in the U.S. The Nabholz wellness program continues to help recruit new skilled talent and retain the devoted employees it employs.
The wellness program parallels the company values of Safety First; People are our most asset; and Integrity as the foundation of our professional and personal relationships. These values represent what Nabholz stands for.
*5 Lessons Learned from the Trenches
1. Executive support is paramount for success.
2. Wellness should be lead by a credentialed person or team.
3. Wellness should be separate from HR.
4. Don’t complicate wellness. Keep your plan design simple.
5. Wellness is an investment for both your company and your people. A little money on the front end can pay off BIG on the back end.