yes-238381_1280Health insurance costs are still on the rise. And one thing employers are doing to counteract them is implementing workplace wellness programs. In fact, a recent Wells Fargo Insurance survey estimated that as many as 51 percent of employers are adding or increasing their initiatives to help improve their employees’ health.

And they aren’t the only ones championing this cause. In a recent study by HealthMine, 75 percent of workers wanted to see this benefit at their place of employment.

But are they really successful? Well, that depends on how you measure success.

One of the main ideas behind wellness programs is that if employees stay active, get preventative care, and learn how to better care for themselves, they’ll be healthier. As a result, they’ll miss less work, be more productive, cost less to insure, and accrue lower amounts of medical claims.

But are those things really happening? Yes and no.

A recent study by Rand Corp examined almost 600,000 employees who worked for 7 different companies. The findings showed that the companies’ wellness programs had very little immediate impact on the amount those companies were spending on their employees’ health insurance costs.

However, the impact on the health of the employees themselves was a little more significant. Programs that encouraged exercise, healthy eating, and tobacco cessation did seem to be producing long term results. Likewise programs aimed at preventing things like diabetes, heart disease, and emphysema were working in the short term.

What does all this mean for business owners? Basically that in order to determine if your wellness program is working, you need to be certain of what you plan to measure. Decreasing premium costs is one goal, but there are many other benefits to implementing a workplace wellness program.

Before you begin any initiatives, you should first clearly define the goals of your program. Make sure each dollar you spend makes sense to get you closer to that goal. Most importantly, stay committed. No program will be successful without consistent reinforcement.

In short, with the right goals and the right amount of persistence, YES. Wellness programs absolutely can “work.”