With wellness increasingly becoming a key component of employers’ overall benefits offerings, now is a great time to take a look at what has worked (and what hasn’t) in the past.  Such retrospection is also necessary in order to steer the course of where wellness programs are headed for 2015.

Outcomes-based Incentives

As wellness programs have evolved, many employers are shifting to outcomes-based incentives in order to increase personal responsibility.  Incentives like premium reductions are common for employees whose biometrics qualify them.  However, even with financial incentives, it’s become evident that employees are much more likely to participate if the program is easy and accessible.

There’s also been an increased focus on employees’ habits both in and out of the office.  For instance, many companies reward employees for being involved in physically challenging activities, like playing team sports, outside of work.

Face-to-face Communication

Another change in the wellness world has been a shift away from too much technology.  Wellness programs had become so digital that many employees were lacking that personal connection to engage them. As a result, many employers are using in-person resources, like guest speakers, to give their wellness program a personal touch.

Regardless, though, social media will continue to play a major role in increasing employee engagement.  As will technology such as wearable devices to track employee behaviors and outcomes.

Integrated Strategies

Many employers are taking a more integrated approach to their overall benefits packages and using one vendor to help them develop an entire plan to meet their goals.  Affordability is still important, but many employers are placing more emphasis on results, regardless of the cost.

As a result, most will continue to focus on wellness as a central component of their business strategy.  However, employers must still be careful about making decisions regarding wellness, since their current priority must be making sure they’re prepared for ongoing regulatory and tax policies.

Maintaining Compliance

On that note, it’s important for employers to stay abreast of the ACA requirements in light of the recent EEOC litigation that addresses how employers can penalize workers who decide not to participate in wellness programs.  Many have stalled in their wellness pursuits while they make sure their plans are compliant.

Coming Trends

In the coming year, more employers are expected to continue looking for ways to shift the increasing health care cost burden onto employees.  This will result in employers taking a more active role in helping employees improve their health, which will result in healthier lifestyles and decreased costs for all.

Wellness programs are also expected to begin to take a more out-of-the-box approach, even focusing on employees’ family members to help reduce claims and the associated costs.

To read more about these and other trends, see the full article at Employee Benefits News.