Both safety and wellness programs are often implemented by employers to provide a healthier environment for their workforce and to reduce Worker’s Com and insurance claims costs. However, they are most often treated as separate programs.  Emerging evidence suggests many employee health and safety issues arise from a combination of work-related factors and lifestyle health factors. In an ideal work environment (especially for self-insured companies), employers will benefit by providing employees with an integrated risk management and wellness program that includes an effective mix of engagement, incentives, training and evaluation.

An integrated program responds to a wide range of objectives. Elements of a comprehensive program may include job safety initiatives, efforts to create cultures of health and safety; early recognition and treatment of injury or illness; disability prevention and return to work programs; assessment of worker health status; a proactive response to personal health risks; emergency preparedness planning; and behavioral health and environment safety issues.

While these objectives may seem to be unrelated activities, they are aimed at the same goals. Through my 13 years of experience in creating and managing engagement solutions, I have found combined safety and wellness programs have many areas of “mutual impact”, which ultimately provides a real benefit to the employees. And, they are more effective in protecting and improving employee health than traditional isolated programs.

Additionally, employees really like participating in a single program with a common platform. The employees of our clients earn reward points for meeting both safety and wellness program goals. The outcome is much more powerful, because employees accumulate rewards at a higher rate, and can choose the rewards that motivate them the most. A combined program makes it easier for employees to understand and participate in the process. It also simplifies the implementation and management for employers and promotes a culture of wellness from the top down.

Establishing corporate goals on combining safety and wellness programs does not have to be a significant financial investment. In fact, adding safety to the wellness mix usually creates an almost immediate positive effect on your bottom line. Given the current financial outlook (rising healthcare costs and increased cost of treatment; a reduction in workforce, resulting in increased work hours; higher rates of chronic disease, etc.), businesses are well advised to consider ways to mitigate health related costs for the company and its employees. The combined safety and wellness program can be an integral part of a company’s plan.

While the creation of a combined program may take some thought, and coordination and effort among several committees/decision makers, it will undoubtedly prove worthwhile. I encourage you to take a look at the ‘big picture’, and allow gBehavior to assist your company in delving into the possibilities.