Category: Corporate Wellness

Administering a wellness program to a multi-office corporation can be challenging.  Different offices may have different health and wellness needs.  Some offices are larger and have plentiful resources, while other small satellite offices may be more limited.

Inevitably, there will be different resources available at different offices.  While it may be affordable to have an onsite gym and dietician at the corporate headquarters in New York, it’s unlikely that the company’s satellite office of 20 employees in Topeka offers the same benefits.

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Sheetz Inc. has been struggling with this challenge.  Sheetz made health and wellness a priority by investing in a state of the art $4 million 12,000 square foot employee wellness center, aptly named the Sheetz Center for Shwellness.

Bill Young, Director of Compensation, Benefits, and Risk at Sheetz, acknowledged the challenges that lay ahead in effectively deploying a wellness solution to all employees.  “Our challenge is we have 13,000 employees spread across six states and 450 stores, and really, how do you take a wellness concept and program and get folks dispersed like that engaged and try to get an impact at that level?”

A mobile wellness solution is a cost effective way to solve the challenge of deploying a robust and equitable wellness program across multiple offices.  As long as an employee has a smartphone, he or she can access the same wellness resources whether in the Syracuse satellite office, on business trip in London, or working from home to care for sick kids.

Weight loss coaches, dieticians, personal trainers – these services are all available as mobile apps for little to no cost.  With around 40,000 mobile health apps available, finding health and wellness resources is no longer the challenge.  Instead, the challenges for an employer looking to explore mobile wellness are two fold: curating the abundance of apps to determine the most effective mobile solutions for an employer’s population and then finding a way to manage and administer the mobile apps in a corporate wellness setting.

The right corporate wellness partner can help manage both the curation and administration of mobile wellness apps for a surprisingly competitive price.

If you are interested in learning how mobile wellness can help solve your corporate wellness needs, send us an email

For more on Sheetz’s commitment to wellness: http://www.cspnet.com/news/corporate/articles/isnt-shwell


Category: Rewards and Incentives

1186277_41392762  Money in hand

Americans know health is important, in fact, we are reminded daily.  The American Heart Association symbol on the yellow Cheerios box, the Surgeon General’s warning on a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, Weight Watchers commercials, and six-pack abs gracing the front of Women’s Health magazine remind us of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Despite the daily reminders, taking action to live a healthier life can be a challenge.  According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, “The vast majority of Americans believe it’s possible to have a great deal of control over their level of physical activity, the healthfulness of their diet and their weight, yet far fewer are actually taking that control.”

Could equating health to tangible real dollars help people see the immediate value of tacking action and embracing a healthier lifestyle?  According to the foundation’s study, “More than half of Americans agree that they would rather lose $1,000 than gain an additional 20 pounds.”

It’s hard to evaluate the importance of this statistic without looking further at details like age, income, and current weight; however, the question alone brings attention to the importance of placing a monetary value on health.

What if we slightly altered the question asked in the study, and instead asked: how much would I have to pay you to lose 20 pounds?  Many employers are asking this exact question.  Employers are attaching financial incentives to their corporate wellness programs to further encourage employees to engage in healthy activity, and it’s working!

Employers want their employees to be healthy for a number of reasons including lowering healthcare costs, increasing productivity, decreasing absenteeism, and increasing employee satisfaction.  For many employers, the best way to encourage healthy behavior is through financial incentives such as HSA dollars, additional vacation days, or cash rewards.

How much would your employer have to pay you to lose 10lbs?  Let us know @getwellable

For more on the International Food Information Council Foundation’s study: http://www.foodinsight.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=rZGI8ERlGXk%3d&tabid=65


Category: Wellness

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Grabbing a Clif bar just before running out the door.  Racing to Starbucks to pickup a mourning venti latte with soymilk for that requisite jolt of caffeine before heading into the office.  More likely than not, you are familiar with the daily mad dash and hustle of the morning commute.

I have less than fond memories of speed walking down Commonwealth Ave in Boston and weaving in and out of standstill traffic racing to get to work.  My focus was narrow.  My goal was simple, get there on time.  With such a singular focus, it was difficult to remember that there can actually be benefits of a morning or evening commute – that is health benefits.

New York City recently launched their bike share program (now the largest of such programs in North America).  The launch of “Citi Bike” is a nice reminder of a healthy option available for getting to and from the office.

Bicycling can be a great way to stay in shape.  In fact, according to one study, a 155 lbs person can burn 260 calories with a moderate 30 min bike ride.

You may be surprised at the miles you rack up during your weekly commute.  I challenge you to power up your favorite smartphone GPS fitness app and start tracking your weekly walk or bike to work.

Remember, getting to and from work can count as exercise too!

For more on the launch of New York’s bike share program: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-fitness-bicycles-idUSBRE95N08O20130624

For more on the # of calories burned during bicycling and other exercises: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm


Category: Regulatory

In late 2012, Wellable was excited to hear that the Massachusetts legislature enacted legislation providing that employers that initiate a wellness programs for their employees will be eligible for an annual wellness tax credit of up to $10,000.   The credit is in the amount of up to 25% of the cost of implementing an employee wellness program.  Costs in the initial year that exceed that figure may be carried over into subsequent years for credit against future tax liabilities.  The legislature has placed a $15 million per year limit on the total amount of wellness tax credits that may be issued.

What criteria must employers satisfy in order to be certified?

  • Less than 200 employees, the majority of whom work in Massachusetts
  • Offer healthcare benefits to employees
  • Must be in compliance with all legal obligations of employers

What must a wellness program include to be certified?

  • Annual budget for wellness expenditures
  • Designated wellness champion
  • Formal communication about wellness program to all employees
  • Employee awareness of their personal health risks
  • Collected data or information on employee interests on various topics
  • Identification of the most important health issues and/or interests of employees
  • Program development based on most important health issues and/or interests of employees
  • Minimum 1/3 participation of employees in at least one element of the wellness program

In order to promote workplace wellness programs among the smallest employers, 50% of the 2013 allocation will be reserved for small employers with 100 or fewer employees.

For more information on the tax credit program or how Wellable can help you gain certification, feel free to contact us.  We are proudly located in Boston and would love to grab coffee!


Category: Corporate Wellness

One of the most important, but often overlooked ways to drive engagement happens well before the launch date of a wellness program.

I stumbled upon a slightly dated, yet still relevant article titled “When it comes to wellness, ask employees what they want.”  This article is a reminder of a crucial step in building an effective corporate wellness program.

Ask employees.  Asking for employee input may seem like an obvious first step, but you would be surprised by the number of employers who have not solicited any input or feedback from their employees.

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Employee feedback during the early stages of designing a wellness program will not only help zero-in on the wellness needs of an organization, it will help employees feel part of the process.  Employees that feel part of the process will be more likely to participate in the program once launched.

Employee feedback can go beyond administering a survey.  Some clients have created wellness working groups and enlisted employees from throughout the organization to help select and build a wellness program.

Regardless of how you decide to solicit employee input, make sure it is a priority from the start.  For help on how to best to engage employees in the wellness selection process send us an email.

For more on asking employees about their wellness needs:  http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/may/22/when-it-comes-wellness-ask-employees-what-they-wan/#axzz2YaHAh2tT


Category: Regulatory

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The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury released final rules describing the standards for employee wellness programs and rewards associated with them as part of the Affordable Care Act.   The final rules will take effect for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

Below is a summary of the key provisions in the final rules.

  • Outlines amended standards for nondiscriminatory health-contingent wellness programs
    • Requires individuals to meet a specific standard related to their health to obtain a reward
    • Wellness programs must follow certain rules
      • Must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease
      • Must be reasonably designed to be available to all similarly situated individuals
      • Must be given notice of the opportunity to qualify for the same reward through other means
  • Supports workplace wellness programs, including participatory wellness programs, which generally are available without regard to an individual’s health status
  • Increases the maximum permissible reward under a health-contingent wellness program from 20% to 30% of the cost of health coverage and further increases the maximum reward to as much as 50% for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use or if federal regulators determine that such an increase is appropriate
  • Rule applies to employer group health plans and to health insurance issuers offering group health insurance coverage