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R&R Insurance Blog

Steps to Increase Employee Engagement in Wellness Programs

Posted by Michelle Froehlke

iStock-516176306.jpgAccording to a report from the Healthcare Performance Management Institute, on average, $2.59/hour or 8% of a worker’s total compensation is connected to employee benefits and wellness programs. Because employers dedicate a significant amount of money to these programs, it only seems natural to devote time to ensure the benefits are utilized effectively in order to get the best value for their investment.

While a true ROI or dollar figure isn’t clear cut, research has reinforced the ideas that with improved health decreases employee absenteeism, improves culture and attitude, and increases productivity. 

If employers want a sustained health management program, they should keep in mind and acknowledge the following items:

  1. Employees want choices. They need to feel that the employer is interested in their health and wellness for the right reasons - not just trying to steer them toward the lowest cost option. Trust is essential.
  2. Employees want to be included. Consider engaging an insurance and/or wellness committee. Peer buy-in is crucial.
  3. Like all healthy/effective relationships, clear communication is a must. Without effective communication no program will succeed long-term.
    • Customize the materials.
    • Target the programs.
    • Understand the employees readiness to change. If they don’t want to change a lifestyle habit, it may not be cost effective to pursue that topic with the employee. Focus efforts where you can make an impact.
    • Address the barriers and concerns employees may have. Don’t ignore or sweep them under the rug. Be straightforward and honest.
    • Make the financial incentive or disincentive easy to understand - no hidden agendas. 
  4. Predictive analytics and profiling should be used to guide decisions on programming.
  5. Involve spouses in the education and wellness programming to increase success.

Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the typical chronic conditions for employees. Similarly, the desire for improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and decreased stress are the big “wants” from employees. The tough part is following the strategic steps to engage the employees and get their buy-in and support. Only then will employers truly make an impact on the cost. It may be a culture shift for some employers. 

Here at R&R Insurance, we can assist you in finding the right Knowledge Broker to help navigate this process. Click here to contact us. 

Topics: Wellness

Reduce Insurance Costs & Increase Employee Productivity

Posted by Shay Sherfinski

Workplace_Wellnessjpg.jpgAccording to a study, 81% of large employers and 49% of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. Aimed to improve employees’ overall well-being, these programs are often centered around weight loss, smoking cessation, and walking.

Why is it important to promote wellness in the workplace?

Wellness affects your company’s bottom line in many ways—in particular, it can lower health care costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and raise employee morale.

Employees with health risk factors, such as being overweight or smoking, can directly impact insurance costs.  In turn, those employees will pay more for health care than employees with fewer risk factors. Wellness can help employees with high risk factors make the lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life and reduce their health care costs, while also helping employees with fewer risk factors stay healthy. 

What are the benefits of a wellness program?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes the formation of workplace wellness programs because, according to one of its studies, employees in companies with “a strong culture of health” are three times more likely to actively strive to improve their health.

In addition, wellness programs have shown to directly:

  • Control health insurance costs
  • Reduce Workers’ Compensation and disability costs
  • Increase employee productivity and absenteeism
  • Enhance morale and improve recruiting

Read more about the value a wellness program can provide on your organization and how to lower your insurance costs, or contact Shay Sherfinski.

Topics: Wellness Program, Employee Benefits, Wellness, lower insurance costs, corporate wellness

Does Your Business Have a Wellness Program In Place?

Posted by Bill Katzfey

iStock_000064575089_XXXLarge-1.jpgIs your organization taking advantage of the numerous ways to save money on health insurance? Are you looking to reduce your insurance premiums?

While there are numerous benefits to implementing and maintaining a robust wellness program, reducing the number of employees who smoke is an important piece of the wellness puzzle. Proactively providing smoking cessation programs will have a direct impact on your health insurance premiums. In addition, smokers commonly have longer recoveries from surgery and often need repeat surgeries which causes work comp claims to skyrocket on individual surgical claims.

The Charolotte Observer recently published an article with examples of doctors refusing to operate on those who smoke. According to research, one study found that smokers who got joint replacement surgery had an 80 percent higher chance than nonsmokers of needing repeat surgery because of complications from infection.

Click here to read the full article.

Are you looking to revamp or jumpstart a wellness program at your organization? Contact me to learn more about the resources R&R has available to assist.

Topics: Wellness, Improve Employee Wellness, corporate wellness

WEA Trust Provides Wellness Solution for Municipalities

Posted by Bill Lewis

iStock_000047451796_Double.jpgThe WEA trust is bringing a proven, best-in-class wellness solution to municipalities through their League Health Plan with Vitality.  Vitality is an interactive rewards based wellness program that engages its members through education and coaching to improve their health and lives.  It helps members realize how lifestyle choices impact health, and how activity and exercise can enhance their lives. 

A well implemented wellness plan can drive a handful of improvements for you as the employer as well.  A more active and healthy workforce improves productivity and lowers risk factors that drive your health claims.  Additionally, creating a wellness program provides opportunities for leadership among your employees who participate on a wellness committee, and can help brand your organization and make you an employer of choice in your community. 

Here are some of the key elements of the Vitality Wellness program through WEA and the League Health Plan:

  • Biometric Screenings – Your employees will ‘know their numbers’ for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides etc.
  • Vitality Health Review – This is a health risk assessment that helps bring lifestyle into the mix of your biometrics results and paints a picture of overall health.
  • Vitality Bucks – Employees earn points for the Biometric Screening, the Health Review, and also for tracking activities through a phone, smart watch or pedometer. Earning bucks allows you to buy rewards like movie passes, make charitable donations, gift cards.  Points do not expire!
  • Goal Setting – Vitality will set goals for activities like steps per day, workouts per week and provides motivation to improve results of the health screening. These goals are attached to bucks, so the more you participate the more you can gifts you can purchase.
  • Coaching – Vitality provides health content, articles and provides goals for improving the health of your whole organization

There are two levels of the program available.  Activate is the base level, and Elevate is a ‘buy up’ option that includes more involvement with spouses, higher levels of engagement with the program and some additional resources to help you build your wellness platform. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss how this wellness plan can be implemented into your organization, contact me.  We have our own Certified Wellness Specialist on staff, and I would be happy to help you improve the lives and health of your employees!

Topics: Employee Health, Wellness, group benefits, Municipalities LWMMI, municipalities

Three Ways to Increase Profit Using WellCompForLife

Posted by the knowledge brokers

WellCompForLifeTake control of the health and productivity of your employees - and increase profit. WellCompForLife is R&R Insurance Services’ total solutions approach to that will provide your company with the tools to increase the life span and productivity of your employees - and ultimately your bottom line!

The top three driving trends impacting an employer’s bottom line are Obesity, Workplace Injuries and the Aging Workforce.

Addressing These 3 Corporate Burdens to Increase Your Profit

1. Obesity - Yes, That Means Lose The Weight
Findings show that obese workers were more likely to report occupational injuries, with a great frequency of strains and sprains, along with falls and overexertion injuries. Consider these statistics: A comparison of obese employees to normal weight employees: 50% more workers’ compensation claims, 13x more lost work days, 7x higher medical costs, 11x indemnity claim costs. And this is just the workers compensation part. The negative effects of obese employees on your health insurance costs are overwhelming. Diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain - can all be attributed in part to being overweight. That means you have to do something about it - employee wellness programs, fitness, healthy eating, lifestyle changes for your employees and their families.

2. Reduce Workplace Injuries: Reduce the injuries to reduce the work comp claims!

  • Slip-and-fall injury prevention: ensure a safe working environment by maintaining parking lots and sidewalks; encourage employees to wear appropriate footwear for wet or slippery conditions. Make sure you have handrails at all stairwells and inclines/declines - special attention to this for your aging workforce.
  • Ensure employees can meet the physical requirements of the job: consider a post-offer, pre-employment physical for new employees – be sure the physician covers medical history as it may reveal something not seen during the physical (the cost of the test would pay for itself when preventing a back or shoulder claim!) Pay special attention to your aging workforce for their physical requirements.
  • Ergonomics enhancement: ask employees for suggestions on how their job can be tweaked to avoid fatigue or soreness; consider job rotation for repetitive tasks (also promotes cross-training!)
  • Wellness programs to aid injury prevention: help prevent strains, sprains, and falls by improving flexibility, strength, and balance. Great examples is starting a flex and stretch program, cover part of a gym membership, or hold exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi.Also, having a structured return-to-work program has several benefits, the most important of which is the reduction of lost-time (lost-time has 3 times greater impact on your workers compensation premium dollars than a no-lost-time claim).

There are literally dozens of ways to increase safety and reduce injuries at your place of work. If they aren't apparent to you, bring a knowledgebroker in - we'll take a look around and give you some pointers.

3. Address the Aging Workforce
Experts predict that by the year 2020, 25% of the US workforce will be 55 years or older. Couple this statistic with the fact that most people are working past the traditional retirement age of 65 and organizations need to pay special attention to this sector of the workforce.

On average, older workers are injured less frequently than younger workers. However when older workers are injured, it will be more severe and have a longer recovery time. See Preventing Injuries in an Aging Workplace.

R&R Insurance has found that if businesses address the health of their employees, reduce their number of injuries and keep a close eye on ways to accommodate the aging workforce, you will see a significant positive effect on your bottom line! WellCompForLife processes will increase the health and longevity of your employees and their families giving you a lot more control over your health and work comp insurance costs, all while improving the productivity of their employees. This is control business owners don't realize they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife!

Join the WellCompForLife discussion on LinkedIn!

For more information about WellCompForLife, contact a knowledgebroker today!

Topics: Return to Work, Safety, Workers Compensation, Employee Benefits, Wellness, obese employees, lost work days, indemnity claim costs, Business Insurance, Self Funded Health Insurance, WellCompForLife, wellness programs, Improve Employee Wellness, increase the health and longevity of your employee, Increasing Your Profit, lower Employee Health Risk

March Madness at Work: Three Point Play or Foul?

Posted by Steph Schreiber

March Madness FunnyIt's Madness...we know. There's a lot of talk about whether employers should let employees check their brackets while at work. We did some hunting and found these great tips for business owners and HR managers to rally around the issue. It looks like the winning answer is YES!

Set a Game Plan
While an employer shouldn’t be expected to set up flat panel televisions and hand out remote controls, it can embrace the team spirit the tournament creates. Options can include letting workers:

  • Show their colors. Employees might rally around a casual day that allows them to wear the colors of their favorite team.
  • Flex some muscle. Workers may appreciate flexible hours that allow them to catch a big game.
  • Pool resources. A company-wide pool that allows employees to fill out the brackets for fun — and does not involve cash prizes or an entry fee — could be an ice-breaker, and chatter about last-second victories and upsets offers an opportunity for employee bonding.
  • Take a break. An organization that does not allow employees to bring their cell phones, iPads, or other portable electronics into the office may let workers check scores online while on break. Also, make sure the games are on in the lunchroom so workers can do some scoreboard watching during lunch or break time.


Here are some of the highlights of what we found and the links to the full articles:


March Madness at Work: Can it Be a Slam Dunk?

Morale vs. productivity Staffing company OfficeTeam recently surveyed more than 1,000 managers on the effects of the NCAA tournament in their workplaces. Twenty percent of the managers felt office activities related to the tournament improved employee morale at least somewhat. Just four percent viewed them negatively. The majority—75 percent—said March Madness events at work have no effect on morale or productivity.

This year’s survey differs from OfficeTeam’s 2010 survey, in which 41 percent of executives felt office tournament celebrations helped morale while 22 percent thought those activities hurt productivity.

Managers were asked, "Do you feel March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) activities in the workplace, such as watching games or participating in pools that don't involve money, have a positive or negative impact on employee morale?"

Their responses:
Very positive 5%
Somewhat positive 15%
No impact 75%
Somewhat negative 3%
Very negative 1%
Don't know/no answer 1%

Managers also were asked, "Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace have a positive or negative impact on employee productivity?"

Their responses:
Very positive 5%
Somewhat positive 11%
No impact 75%
Somewhat negative 8%
Very negative 1%

March Madness: Three Point Plays for HR Victories or Catastrophes at Work:

Wide-ranging research suggests that March Madness participation can actually improve productivity in three ways:

  1. Morale: As people come out of the dark corners of their cubes and begin interacting with each other, it creates a happy environment to share creative ideas. And, we all know, happier employees work more productively.
  2. Inclusiveness: When employees feel as if they are included in something, they unknowingly create an equalizer that has the power to transcend title and position. So, everyone feels like they belong and have something fun to which they can look forward.
  3. Engagement: Employees are not only engaged with each other, but they’re more engaged with their work. The fact is: March Madness brings out the best in most of us.

The most important thing to remember is that people will continue to play brackets ...and will do it at work. It is incumbent upon management and HR to find ways to keep employees engaged and to let them have some fun. But it’s also important to develop guidelines to avoid that possible HR catastrophe.

For more information on HR consulting, employee benefits, employee welfare and well-being, or any risk management concerns, contact a knowledgebroker today.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Wellness, HR Compliance, march madness in the workplace, march madness at work, WellCompForLife, HR and march madness

Top Four Employee Retaliation Complaints | EPLI

Posted by the knowledge brokers

harrassmentEmployers have a 1 in 3 chance of being the target of an employment related action for every 100 employees. Private and small companies are even more vulnerable as many have less HR resources, think of themselves as “family”, and generally pay less attention to potential risk areas. In 2012 the EEOC received more complaints than any previous year. They have increased their budget by 20% to increase staff to handle the pure volume of complaints being filed. Regulators have become more aggressive in enforcement at both the federal and local level.

The top four complaints being filed against employers:

  1. Age related discrimination
  2. Retaliation (at an all-time high)
  3. Sexual Harassment (account for 25-30% of all complaints)
  4. Wage and Hour

It is important for employers to realize that the EEOC is looking at every charge for a pattern of behavior. A single complaint can easily balloon into a much bigger problem. Recently, St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the hospital failed to pay 1,400 nurses for meal breaks when they had to stay at the hospital on call.

In the broad context of wage and hour issues, allegations include misclassification of employees as exempt to avoid overtime pay (i.e. sales personnel), not paying for the time spent donning or removing of gear, booting up computers, preparing for the work day, etc.. and the use of mobile devices to access voice mail or email off hours without compensation. The 4th district Court Appeals ruled recently that Tyson Foods must pay back wages for the time spent putting on and taking off gear that can include hair nets, hard hats, shoe covers, safety glasses and frocks. The back wages could top more than $1 million.

Looking into the future, employers should be aware of the potential claims concerning obesity and corporate wellness programs. The American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a disease. Is this a precursor to becoming a protected class? The challenge for employers is being able to show that an applicant or employee cannot perform the job duties rather than the impact that an obese person can have on health insurance, sick time, and productivity. With regard to wellness programs employers are advised to be careful that individual’s privacy is protected, that they are not being judged /monitored and that employment decisions are not being influenced by an employee opting out of participation or following recommendations.

The average cost to defend against an employment action brought by a single plaintiff that is ultimately dismissed is $150,000. Costs for complex and class actions can skyrocket and have a huge financial impact to any employer regardless of industry. Employment Practices Liability insurance should be a part of the insurance program for all employers. Taking time to understand the policy, the obligations of both the employer and carrier, and what to do in the event of a claim is time well spent. Odds of becoming the target of an employment action are on the rise.

For more information about Employment Practices Liability Insurance for your Wisconsin company, contact a knowledgebroker.

Related topics:
Corporate wellness programs









Topics: Liability, Wellness, The top four complaints being filed against employ, EPLI, Business Insurance, employee retaliation, St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Employment Practices Liability insurance

Absence Management: Best Practices and Positive Outcomes

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Injury-at-Work.jpgThe causes of absenteeism are varied, and so is the impact on companies - from decreased productivity to a reduction in profit and morale.

Some employers are finding better ways to manage employee absence. Research shows a direct correlation between these five major employer practices and a better absence management program:

  1. A full return-to-work (RTW) program, starting with a written RTW policy and a list of alternative duties for light duty clearance.
  2. Referral process for employees to health management programs.
  3. A central leave-reporting system for STD and FMLA.
  4. Detailed reporting for disability and FMLA usage patterns, costs etc.
  5. Use the same resource for STD, FMLA and other benefit programs

7 Positive Outcomes of an Absence Management Program

  1. Enhanced productivity
  2. Reduction in lost-time claims
  3. Decreased overall absenteeism
  4. Direct cost reduction
  5. Better return-to-work ratios
  6. Lower workers compensation premiums
  7. Improved employee morale

Employers are recognizing the importance of managing absences, but most have a long way to go in managing their overall presenteeism program.

Implementing strategies to help workers stay healthy is critical to controlling costs. At R&R, we take wellness to a whole new level. Wellness programs will increase the health and longevity of employees and their families –which means that businesses can have a lot of control over their health insurance costs and the productivity of their employees – control that they don’t know they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife!

Join our upcoming Work Comp Seminar to learn more!

Topics: Return to Work, Workers Compensation, Employee Benefits, Wellness, Accident Investigation, presenteeism, std, Business Insurance, FMLA, Absence Management Program, WellCompForLife, absence management

Employee Health Risk Reductions Result in Lower Costs For Employers Within 1 Year

Posted by Riley Enright

Apple-HealthAs an Employee Benefits Producer for R&R Insurance, I have access to some tools of our trade that business owners and HR professionals may not be privy to. I came across an article in Employee Benedit Adviser that discusses the multi-employer study by Health Management and Towers Watson. The study confirms what we've been promoting here at R&R. The bottom line for employers is that if you start to change employee behaviors, you will start seeing health care cost savings very quickly. The research is saying - within 1 year! Here is an excerpt from the research study as well as a few links to this information that I find worth sharing.

Although health risks have been directly associated with higher health care costs, and a growing body of research shows that improving health can generate a positive long-term ROI, there has been limited research on how soon cost savings begin accruing and the relative cost impact of health risk accumulation versus health risk reduction.“This research not only demonstrates the level of savings that can be expected, but it also begins to show how soon employers can expect to begin realizing some change in costs as a result of a change in health risk status,” said Steven Nyce, senior economist at Towers Watson and lead author of the study. “This is crucial information for employers that have made a commitment to improving the health and productivity of their workforce. It also should enable employers to attract more senior management support for investing in these programs.”

Implementing strategies to help workers stay healthy is critical to controlling costs. At R&R, we take wellness to a whole new level. Wellness programs will increase the health and longevity of employees and their families –which means that businesses can have a lot of control over their health insurance costs and the productivity of their employees – control that they don’t know they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife!

Join the WellCompForLife discussion on LinkedIn!

StayWell Health Management and Towers Watson’s breakthrough study confirms that population health management will reduce employee health risks and produce short-term cost savings in as little as one year.

Study: Preventing Health Risks Has Rapid Payoff

The study, “Association Between Changes in Health Risk Status and Changes in Future Health Care Costs: A Multi-employer Study,” was published in the November 2012 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) and is available on the JOEM website.

For more information about WellCompForLife, about self-funding your health insurance plan, health care reform or basic employee benefits questions, contact knowledgebroker Riley Enright.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Wellness, Preventing Health Risks, Towers Watson, Riley Einright, StayWell Health Management, JOEM, WellCompForLife, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Wellness Programs: ROI No Longer in Dispute

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Workplace_WellnessjpgBuilding a workplace culture of wellness is one of the best things employers can do to boost employee health – and to improve the bottom line.

When employers and workers join forces to battle high healthcare costs, everyone wins. Organizations across the U.S. are making incredible strides to achieve higher productivity, lower absenteeism and reduce claims. People who take a more active role in managing their own health enjoy the payoffs, too, in quality of life and cost savings.

Research shows that health risks are directly related to costs. As the risks increase, so do the costs. Heart disease, obesity and other costly conditions can be prevented when people engage in healthy behaviors both short term and long term.

Wellness Statistics:

  • For each employee who loses low-risk status, health costs go up $350/year. If they regain their low-risk status, they save $150/year.
  • High BMI individuals cost an average of $2326 (1996 dollars) more in annual health claims compared to healthy BMI individuals.
  • High-risk health plan members cost approximately $2000 over the average for annual medical claims.
  • High-risk employees (5+ risk factors) between ages 35-65 have medical claim costs of $3007-$4182 higher/year compared to low-risk employees in the same age group.

The most effective way to increase the proportion of employees in the low-risk category is to keep them from developing risk factors.

Encouraging physical activity and balanced nutrition, along with other healthy behaviors, is central to any health promotion program. Employees spend a significant portion of their waking hours on the job. Employers can significantly influence lifestyles by developing worksite programs to maintain healthy behaviors.

Creating a healthy workplace can involve 4 primary areas:

  1. Environment – Healthy food, smoke-free facility, physical activity and injury prevention policies.
  2. Programs – Health promotions, recreation programs, employee assistance programs and coaching.
  3. Culture – Incentive systems, role models, education.
  4. Policies – Medical coverage for preventive care, flextime, guidelines to monitor and reduce stress.

A review of 42 published studies on worksite health promotion programs shows these averages:

  • 28% reduction in sick leave absenteeism
  • 26% reduction in health costs
  • 30% reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management claim costs
  • $5.93 –to-$1 savings-to-cost ratio

Implementing strategies to help workers stay healthy is critical to controlling costs. At R&R, we take wellness to a whole new level. Wellness programs will increase the health and longevity of employees and their families –which means that businesses can have a lot of control over their health insurance costs and the productivity of their employees – control that they don’t know they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife!

Join the WellCompForLife discussion on LinkedIn!

For more information about WellCompForLife, about self-funding your health insurance plan, health care reform or basic employee benefits questions, contact knowledgebroker Laura Stehno.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Wellness, Laura Stehno, worksite health, wellness roi, bmi, WellCompForLife, wellness programs, healthy workplace, corporate wellness