A New Employee Wellness Program for Lowndes County

How this South Georgia County’s Employee Wellness Program decreased employee health risk by 22% and created an ROI of 500% 

employee_wellness_program_in_lowndes_county

THE CHALLENGE 

The Lowndes County Administration approached Corporate Health Partners after facing several barriers in their attempts to create a culture of employee health wellness that would improve the quality of life of its workforce. The correlation between happy, healthy employees and lower healthcare costs was apparent to County leadership. They implemented Corporate Health Partners employee wellness program with the following goals: 

  • Influence the behavior and health outcomes of an aging workforce, with a median age of 45 and an increase in hypertension and heart disease 
  • Assess and respond to a growing increase in healthcare costs, although they had not raised employee insurance rates for 10 years 
  • Implement programs that provide opportunities for community involvement and utilize local resources. County leadership wanted to set an example of being good stewards of health and branded their employee wellness program Serve Well to emphasize service to the community. 

THE FACTS

County Seat: Valdosta, GA 

Key Employee Stats: 

  • 561 total employees (97% full-time) 
  • 61% male, 39% female 
  • 418 employees on health plan 
  • 88% participation in the employee wellness program (366 employees) 

Diverse Work Groups: 

  • 21 departments
  • Public Safety (Sheriff & Fire), Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Administration, Judicial
  • Multiple shifts (8hr, 10hr, 12hr, 24/48hr)
  • 20% of employee population has no daily use or access to computers 

THE CORPORATE HEALTH PARTNERS SOLUTION

Corporate Health Partners and Lowndes County created a three-year, customized employee wellness programto introduce wellness and improve employee health. With strong leadership support and involvement, the county incentivized the program with a 30% savings in health insurance cost for participants who fulfilled all requirements. 

The County established the following employee health and wellness goals: 

  • Maintain a healthy, high-performance workforce that enables the employees to serve well
  • Prevent or minimize medical problems 
  • Keep employee health insurance affordable 
  • Set a good example for the community 

CORPORATE HEALTH PARTNERS TEAM AND SERVICES

  • Program Manager and wellness coaches  
  • Onsite screenings and health coaching sessions 
  • Web-based technologies for goal tracking 
  • Healthy Breaks 
  • Fitness and nutrition challenges 
  • Community forums 

EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAM EVOLUTION

October 2012 – Phase 1 

The goal of this phase was to introduce the employee wellness program to Lowndes employees and overcome negative perceptions and pushback. 

An employee health and wellness team were established, and the participating employees committed to: 

  • Biometric screenings
  • 30-minute health coaching sessions to review results 
  • Complete two employee wellness program activities 
  • Complete comprehensive physical exams

October 2013 – Phase 2 

More responsibility was placed on the workforce to comply with employee wellness program participation requirements, which were the same as the first year with the addition of more wellness activities (four) and more health coaching opportunities. 

October 2014 – Phase 3 

Employees committed to completing five employee wellness program activities in addition to the biometric screenings, review of results, and comprehensive physical. Employees were encouraged to meet with onsite wellness coaches.

EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAM METRICS 

Quantitative success of the employee wellness program is measured through improvements in risk factors (cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, tobacco use, etc.), which are determined from the results of employee health screenings and HRA. A Cohort Group, comprised of those employees that have participated in the health screening and HRA each year, has been evaluated in order to measure the migration of participants to and from the various risk levels (high-moderate-low). The charts below represent the risk level migration for the Cohort Group of 245 participants and validate the success of the employee wellness program in quantifiable risk reduction. 

employee wellness program Lowndes County
  • Key findings of the Cohort review include: a 22% decrease of the high-risk group; the percentage of employees with too high blood pressure decreased from 46% to 20%; and employees in the low-risk group nearly doubled in one year 
  • High-risk employees have been shown to cost more than 20x in medical claims versus low-risk and more than 2x versus moderate-risk. 
  • Using a model based on these cost differences between the three risk groups, the theoretical ROI for Lowndes County on their Corporate Health Partners employee wellness program is nearly 500%. 

Qualitative success is measured through participant testimonials, and level of employee engagement. Tremendous feedback has been reported from employees regarding health awareness, personal motivation, and positive results (diagnostics, dietary changes, and weight loss). 

EMPLOYEE HEALTH CONCERNS: Impact – 1st Two Years 

Health Concern                      Baseline 2013             2015

Elevated Blood Sugar             34%                             12%

Hypertension                          45%                             23%

Elevated Cholesterol              10%                             9%

BMI > 30                                 56%                             57%

Tobacco Use                           36%                             22%

MOVING AHEAD 

Corporate Health Partners and Lowndes began its partnership with a mutual commitment to employee healthand wellness, healthcare cost reduction, and employee participation. As each phase of the program implementation was designed to meet the needs of employees based on their state of mind and perception of wellness, we are looking forward to driving success in the future. Corporate Health Partners will continue to keep workers active and engaged through the following: 

  • Collaboration with the county, consultants, and providers 
  • Maintaining open lines of communication with the workforce 
  • Identifying unique challenges facing various county groups 
  • Evolving the program to meet changing needs and interests including a transition into an outcomes-based program 

EMPLOYEE TESTIMONIALS

My doctor told me that the wellness program “saved my life.” At the biometric screening in November, my blood pressure was so high that I was immediately referred to my doctor. When I got to the doctor’s office I was sent to the hospital where I spend three days getting my blood pressure under control. I am now on blood pressure medicine and feel better than I have in years. This wellness program has provided a wake-up call for me that I need to pay attention to my health. 

– Lowndes Public Works employee 

The wellness program has brought an awareness to the importance of exercise and how eating right really makes a difference in overall health. I now pay attention to my heart rate during exercise, and I am much more conscious to what and when and how much I eat.

– Lowndes County Utilities employee 

In March 2014, I attended the ACS Tobacco Cessation class lead by Buddy Boswell, Wellness Coach. I had previously tried to quit smoking but with short-term success. The group setting made a big difference and the support of other Lowndes County employees made it easier to quit. I still use the things I learned from the class and have tobacco-free for four months. 

– Lowndes Public Works employee

Contact Corporate Health Partners to see how your organization can achieve similar results. 

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