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December 19, 2010

New evidence that wellness programs yield high ROI

As you establish your priorities for the coming year, make sure that employee wellness figures high on the list. In this month's Harvard Business Review, co-authors Leonard Berry, Ann Mirabito, and William Baun make the case that wellness programs are a strategic imperative, offering concrete evidence that investments in wellness yield tangible results.

The authors examine a few long-term programs and the impact on the bottom line and beyond:

  • Johnson & Johnson's comprehensive and strategic investment in their employees’ social, mental, and physical health has cumulatively saved the company $250 million in health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.
  • In a study of 185 workers and their spouses who participated in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training, 57% of those classified as high risk were converted to low-risk in the six-month program. Medical claim costs declined by $1,421 per participant, and every dollar invested in the intervention yielded $6 in health care savings.
  • Six years after pulling its workers comp & injury care unit into its wellness program, MD Anderson Cancer Center saw lost work days decline by 80% and modified-duty days by 64%; workers comp premium dropped by 50%.
  • A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health shows that organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition than do those whose programs have low effectiveness (9% vs. 15%).

In light of these results and the availability of tax incentives and grants stemming from healthcare reform legislation, the authors make the case that it's a good time for employers to take a serious look at their in-house programs. But successful programs demand a corporate cultural shift, requiring more than token and superficial nods to wellness.

6 critical success factors
The authors studied ten employers with successful programs and identified 6 pillars for success, each of which they discuss in detail, offering concrete actions taken by various employers. Here's the summary, but the discussions of each are well worth a read:

  • Pillar 1: Multileval leadership - top-tier commitment
  • Pillar 2: Alignment - cultural integration
  • Pillar 3: Scope, relevance, and quality - addressing the whole person
  • Pillar 4: Accessibility - convenience matters
  • Pillar 5: Partnerships - leveraging available resources
  • Pillar 6: Communications - overcoming apathy and demographic challenges

We're happy to see further evidence of things that we've observed across hundreds of employers: investment in the health and well-being of your employees pays off. And we would particularly echo the observations in Pillar 3 that, "Wellness isn’t just about physical fitness. Depression and stress, in particular, have proved to be major sources of lost productivity." The psychological and emotional health of an employee is inextricably linked to physical wellness.

December 13, 2010

Lighter side: Treehouse of Adulthood

The Treehouse of Adulthood is a delightful poster by Grant Snider. It might be just the thing to freshen your office or cubicle for 2011 - it's available for purchase as an 11"x17" poster.

treehouse-of-adulthood.jpg

December 12, 2010

HR news briefs

Eight tips for meeting with a potentially violent employee - tips from attorney Robert Bettac's recent presentation at BLR's National Employment Law Update are posted at HR Daily Advisor.

Do you have a severe weather policy? - John Hyman of Ohio Employers' Law Blog offers thoughts on the matter. Here are some additional tips for drafting your severe weather policy

The Impact of the 2007-2009 Recession on Workers with Disabilities - New data available from the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicate that between October 2008 and June 2010, job losses among workers with disabilities far exceeded those of workers without disabilities; this labor market volatility resulted in the proportion of employed U.S. workers identified as having disabilities declining by 9 percent.

IRS announces 2011 Standard Mileage Rates - the big headline: 51 cents per mile for business.

Long Term Insurance - Mary Forgione of the Los Angeles Times writes about how long term care insurance is getting costlier and more scarce just as baby boomers are reaching an age where this insurance is given serious consideration.

President Signs Federal Employee Telework Legislation - Bill Leonard recaps the path the legislation took in an article at SHRM.

Safe holiday shopping tips - seasonal consumer protection tips for you and your employees.

The New Old Age - Adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population, and most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. This New York Times blog explores the "unprecedented intergenerational challenge" of baby boomer children caring for their parents.

Sick-Day Bounty Hunters - Are more employers hiring private detectives to catch employees who are abusing their benefits? Eric Spitznagel of the Wall Street Journal looks at the issue.

An interesting bit of corporate communications. We All Fall Down is a short video clip/commercial from General Motors for the holiday season, thanking the public for helping them get back on their feet.

Employment Law - Everyone is waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court decision in Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a dispute that could award billions in back pay for as many as 1.5 million women who are or were employees. The case could also affect other employment-related class-action lawsuits. Here's are some legal commentaries and recent articles on the case:
Daniel Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law Blog
Gerald Maatman of Seyfarth Shaw LLP
The Atlantic: Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Heads to the Supreme Court

December 3, 2010

Holiday parties: risk-management tips for liquor-related liability

BNA has published its Year-End Holiday Practices Survey, which offers a useful benchmark - they've been conducting these surveys for more than 20 years. This year's results encompass the responses of human resources executives representing 300 U.S. employers. The big news this year? Parties are on the upswing...76% of respondents said they will be holding a year-end holiday celebration of some type this year, up 9 percentage points from last year's 10-year low of 67%. And of the party givers, 52% say they will open the parties to spouses or other guests. But the partying will include slightly less emphasis on liquor. While 58% of the holiday parties will include the serving of alcoholic beverages, this is a 3% drop since 2009 and a 7% drop since 2008. In addition, most employers indicate that they are taking one or more measures to limit excessive drinking and ensure the safety of party attendees. Here are some of the strategies that employers employ:

74% - will have bartenders monitor alcohol consumption
54% - will limit times when alcohol is served
49% - will offer a taxi service
24% - will provide discounted hotel rates to encourage overnight stays
4% - will appoint designated drivers

Protecting against liability from alcohol-related driving accidents is important, but there are other liquor-related issues that can pose risk for employers. Attorney Daniel Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law Blog reminds us that alcohol-induced stupidity can also lead to serious sexual harassment claims - he cites a number of cases and offers links to a series of excellent posts that he has made on the topic of office parties:

Holiday Office Parties: What Issues Should an Employer Be Considering?
Part I - Employer Liability at Office Holiday Parties -- Beyond Sexual Harassment
Part II - Employer Liability at Office Holiday Parties - Beyond Sexual Harassment

Here are some other office holiday party pointers:
7 tips for a safe workplace holiday party
How to lawsuit-proof your holiday office party
Office Holiday Party Survival Guide
Best practices for employer-sponsored events

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