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Why CFOs Are Starting To Love Corporate Wellness

(Post by Henry Albrecht originally appeared in Business2Community)

HR and finance departments have historically been at odds. Their goals are often contradictory (e.g. ‘attract the best talent’ versus ‘keep headcounts low’), and in these struggles, the money side usually wins. But when it comes to corporate wellness, CFOs and HR pros are agreeing more than they historically do, a recent report conducted by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) suggests.

That’s right — CFOs care about more than money in benefits and health programs. They recognize the value of well-being and its corresponding outcomes like improved productivity, engagement and the bottom-line results engaged people deliver.

Here are the goals CFOs, HR professionals and employees can are starting to agree on:

Improve productivity and engagement

Focusing on employee well-being leads to an engaged workforce, and that’s something CFOs, HR professionals and employees can all be happy about. In fact, 51 percent of organizations surveyed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) in 2015 said their wellness efforts improved employee satisfaction and engagement.

In addition, a 2015 survey published by Quantum Workplace and my company, Limeade, found that respondents were 38 percent more engaged and 18 percent more likely to go the extra mile when they felt their employers cared about their well-being.

CFOs recognize the correlation between corporate wellness and engagement. In the IBI survey, 34 percent of CFOs said workforce productivity could be improved with health benefits.

How to win: To create a corporate wellness program that improves engagement and productivity, you need to address employee needs. Well-being encompasses more than physical health. Your program should focus on physical, emotional, social, financial and work well-being wellness, to help employees perform at their best.

For the best results, ask employees what types of initiatives they want, and serve them up. Sixty-two percent of employers surveyed by IFBEP survey their employees to learn what programs they want.

Do your employees need help reducing stress, getting a good night’s sleep or developing healthier relationships with their coworkers? Find out to address their needs and maximize participation and improvement.

Manage health better

Most CFOs aren’t caught up on how corporate wellness (alone) can save health care dollars — they actually want to help employees better manage their health, according to the IBI survey.

The best corporate wellness programs aren’t focused on health care costs. Instead, they are centered on the employee and attempt to make meaningful lifestyle changes. CFOs recognize that the benefits of a happy and healthy workforce outweigh potential cost savings in the long-run. CFOs can pull other levers to lower health costs – including offering narrower networks of the best (and lower cost) health care, and implementing other benefits design strategies.

How to win: To get employees to adopt long-term changes, the program needs to be simple and supportive. Challenges should be quick and easy for employees to add into their daily routines. Additionally, any technology used in the program should be simple to use. “Simple, fun, social and mobile” is a good summary.

Back up the simplicity of the program with support; support from the organization, leaders and family. Employers with successful corporate wellness programs in the IFEBP survey said involving families and communications from leaders were key strategies to success.

Have leadership participate in initiatives and communicate their progress to show employees the importance of the program. Invite family members to participate in challenges alongside employees for extra support and motivation at home.

Educate health care consumers

Not only do CFOs want employees to better manage their health, they also want to help them be better health consumers, the IBI report showed.

Health consumerism starts with education, so use corporate wellness to help educate employees about their options. That means using initiatives to teach them about preventive health, choosing the right health benefits and selecting the best providers. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking your doctor how much their health care services cost. This type of education can help employees make smarter choices that benefit their health (and their wallets).

How to win: Integrate education efforts alongside other well-being challenges in the program. These initiatives may seem less interesting or fun, but the IFEBP survey found that incentives can get employees to participate. When incentives were used for health screenings, participation increased from 40 percent to 57 percent. For health fairs, participation with incentives jumped from 37 percent to 54 percent.

Use rewards to help create more educated health consumers — employees and CFOs will thank you. Every goal here – if achieved – will deliver clear and measurable wins for a CFO.

The interests of HR, employees and CFOs may seem vastly different, but they all want the same things for corporate wellness. Focus on the whole well-being of employees to make everyone happy.