April 28, 2022

Workplace Wellness and Compliance

 

Harvard Business Review describes workplace wellness and wellness programs as “an organized, employer-sponsored program that is designed to support employees (and, sometimes, their families) as they adopt and sustain behaviors that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness and benefit the organization’s bottom line”.

Many companies are choosing to implement these programs to improve the overall well-being of their employees and decrease health plan costs. The increase of employee well-being leads to a decrease in healthcare costs.

Healthy employees are less likely to make health insurance claims, increasing cost savings for both the employee and employer.

One of the biggest contributors to the decline of employee health and wellness is overwhelming stress. The American Institute of Stress defines stress as “a reaction to a situation where a person feels anxious or threatened.”

When the body is in a constant state of stress, the likelihood of health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, increases. Wellness programs provide employees education on stress management strategies to improve their overall wellness and prevent more serious conditions.

Wellness Program Compliance

It’s essential that the design of company wellness programs is structured to comply with both state and federal laws- aligning with HIPAA’s nondiscrimination rules. These rules stipulate employers who provide incentive rewards as part of their group health wellness plans must follow certain guidelines. Participatory wellness plans only require employees to participate to receive the reward incentive while health-contingent plans rely on employees meeting certain health standards to qualify for the reward.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents programs from discriminating by setting guidelines that require alternatives to activities, assistance and alternate accommodations. Every employee should have equal access to the entirety of the program’s benefits.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act regulates against discrimination based upon genetic information, such as family medical history and genetic testing.

Wellness programs can play an important part in improving the health of employees and providing support for healthier lifestyle choices. It’s essential that every employee has the same opportunities to participate in these programs, regardless of accessibility.