Roadmaps: Building a Health and Wellness Benefits Plan

By Rick Bell

Mar. 14, 2016

In a job market where a recent survey noted that 1 in 5 employees are determined to land a new job this year, a robust benefits package could go a long way to help retain the worker who’s contemplating a move or entice the ones who are on the hunt for a new opportunity.

Building better benefits offerings will take time, effort, research and good old-fashioned communication. As in, talking to your employees. What do they want? What do they need?

One consideration they likely will want is a comprehensive wellness plan. Wellness is no longer trendy or a fad, but organizations without a wellness plan should analyze whether it’s a fit for its employee population. Some employers are taking preventive steps with nagging health issues such as back pain by offering employees incentives to look at other options before surgery.

This Workforce Roadmap helps encapsulate the themes and ideas of what was written in this special section on developing and maintaining a well workplace.

Plan, Do, Review


  • Assess your employees’ needs. Is there literally a lot of heavy lifting involved? Or, is your workforce largely confined to desks? What takes up your largest workers’ compensation claims?
  • Learn how the Affordable Care Act affects your workforce. By now, you should have a good handle on the effects of Obamacare on your organization. With new forms like the 1095-C and the so-called “Cadillac” tax, the ACA is having a dramatic effect on how health care plans are managed.
  • What about wellness? If you haven’t implemented a wellness program in your organization, you’re lagging behind your competitors. But that doesn’t mean you are too late. Assess several vendors and consider your options.


  • Communicate. Then communicate some more. It has been said that people would rather clean their toilet than deal with their benefits. And while this might sound obvious, HR needs to communicate frequently and consistentlywith employees regarding the benefits program. Is there an employee assistance program available and how does it work? What’s the coverage on such things as vision and accidental death? Are there options to include elder care or child care assistance?
  • Motivate. Then motivate some more. Just because you put apples and bananas in the break room doesn’t mean you’ve set the motivation health machine in motion. Quarterly health fairs, motivational speakers, wellness tips and recipes placed in employee communications are all part of the repetitive drum you must beat to make wellness integral to your workplace.
  • Schedule an ergonomic overhaul. Look around. When was the last time your organization updated its office furniture? Not only will a room full of new chairs and standing desks improve morale, but also it will modernize the look and feel of the office environment and help boost productivity.


  • Don’t put all your wellness eggs in one ROI basket. Managers want to see the return on investment. Given that it can be a costly, complicated process with murky results, focus on “VOI,” or value on investment. Did you cut absenteeism? Are there fewer claims among the diabetic population? Tell the story through the progress you’re making on employees’ individual health.
  • Track your ACA compliance. Federal agencies are stiffening compliance rules with each passing year. Consult your benefits advisers regularly to measure your progress.
  • Quit fiddling with it. Don’t make changes unless something is actually broken. Employees become suspicious when you constantly revamp a program. If you must make adjustments, change one element at a time and track the impact on the entire program before implementing it.
Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director.

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