Workplace Culture

Analysis: Employers Can Help Employees Be More Responsible for Their Health

By Joanne Wojcik

Nov. 30, 2011

The Midwest Business Group on Health has released a series of recommendations to better structure the design, communication and delivery of benefits, wellness incentives and health management activities.

The recommendations are included in a white paper based on the findings of a five-year research project focused on understanding employer and employee perspectives on health care and health benefits.

Among other things, the report released Nov. 28 recommends that employers take into account their organization’s culture when implementing workplace health and benefit programs, that they include dependents and other family members in company communication efforts, and that they structure incentives to be part of the health plan design. The report also recommends that employers offer resources that enable plan members to compare plan costs and learn the actual cost of health care services.

Five employer members of the MBGH representing more than 250,000 employees participated in a series of focus groups over a five-year period.

“Employers have invested substantial resources to improve the health of their workforce by offering health benefits, workplace health programs and external health management resources,” MBGH President and CEO Larry Boress said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in spite of these investments, many employers experience low program participation and disappointing levels of employee understanding and engagement.”

He said the group is “working with employers to combat these problems and explore alternative approaches to benefit design and health improvement programs with the intent to motivate employees to be more responsible for their health.”

The white paper, “Identifying the Triggers and Barriers to Engaging Employees in their Health Benefits and Wellness Programs,” is available on the Chicago-based organization’s website.

Joanne Wojcik writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email

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Joanne Wojcik writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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