How to Maximize Your Wellness Dollars
The end of the year is the perfect time to look at how your company can best use their wellness dollars. As you may know, wellness dollars are funds that some insurance providers offer to reimburse the investment in your company’s health programs. The provider offers these as a positive incentive to improve the wellbeing of your workforce.
The main reason for insurers to offer them is simple: the healthier your employees are, the less insurance companies have to pay out for your policy. So both sides (and of course your employees) benefit.
While not all insurance providers offer wellness dollars, many of them do. Your provider may call them wellness dollars, or they may go by another name, such as wellness reimbursement, wellness credits, fit rewards, or fitness reimbursement. So your first task is to contact your insurance broker or representative and see if your plan offers this perk.
If you have wellness dollars, find out from your insurance provider how they can be spent and what types of wellness programs are covered. They may cover anything from fitness wearables, gym memberships, and flu shots to weight loss and tobacco cessation programs. Insurers may also have an upper limit on the amount they will reimburse, so double-check your amounts with your broker.
After you’ve gathered those details, the important part begins: spending the funds wisely. Here are a few ideas on how to put those wellness dollars to work:
1. Use wellness dollars to expand and incentivize your programs.
You may be able to use wellness dollars to further expand your employee reward offerings and add incentives. For example, this large employer has qualifying wellness activities that span the full spectrum of employee total well-being, including health awareness, physical health, financial health, emotional wellbeing, and even social connection. Before you decide where to put the wellness dollars, collect feedback from your employees to see what is most appealing to them. Doing so will keep your wellness programs modern and relevant.
2. Consider upgrades to your fleet of wearables.
We live in a connected world, and your employees expect a digital health experience that blends with their work lives. If your insurance policy allows, consider using wellness dollars for next-generation fitness wearables.
Here’s why: Fitness trackers can help employees ramp up their daily steps as they compete with coworkers. Internal research shows that people who participate in both Fitbit Adventures and Challenges walk 2,000 more steps per day than those who haven’t participated in a challenge. Participating in weekly challenges even helped one Fitbit user drop 50 pounds.
If your employees are hanging on to older trackers, it might be time to offer them upgrades. The newer, smarter devices deliver and display real-time health data, along with relaxation guidance and coaching. The Fitbit Charge 3 allows your employees to see their personalized health metrics, including activity, heart rate, and sleep, right on the Charge 3 screen. The Fitbit Versa smartwatch includes friendly reminders to help employees keep moving at regular intervals and includes on-screen workouts. Versa can also store and play music, to help users move to their favorite beats. The busy employee can also use Versa to get call, calendar, text, and app alerts when their phone is nearby. Use this Fitbit device comparison sheet to evaluate which ones might be right for your organization.
3. Use wellness dollars to test new programs.
Insurance providers know they can’t cost-effectively provide all types of wellness care, so typically they will allow companies to use wellness dollars on programs they don’t offer themselves. Some third-party wellness providers offer a comprehensive list of classes and programs, making management easier on your HR team. Having a single provider that offers variety will allow you to mix-and-maximize your wellness dollars on programs such as biometric screenings, nutrition and cooking workshops, and maybe classes you hadn’t considered, such as self-defense and meditation.