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In late May, Reuters published a summary of a recent Rand study in a piece entitled “Workplace Wellness Fails Bottom Line, Waistlines,” setting off a flurry of feedback and concern, including among some Lockton clients. At first glance, the Reuters title suggests challenges for our industry, casting potential shadows on our own Lockton Health Risk solutions strategies. Other media outlets have similarly attacked workplace wellness efforts, frequently citing the Rand study results. It seems safe to assume we’ll continue to see stories promoting these negative themes simply because they tend to generate buzz.

However, when you start separating fact from attention-grabbing fiction, you see a different and more positive story, even in the Rand report itself. In fact, on page xxv, the Rand Report acknowledges the potential for success with wellness programs and urges further research into program design and implementation to help improve results:

Consistent with prior research, we find that lifestyle management interventions as part of workplace wellness programs can reduce risk factors, such as smoking, and increase healthy behaviors, such as exercise. We find that these effects are sustainable over time and clinically meaningful. This result is of critical importance, as it confirms that workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, the main driver of premature morbidity and mortality as well as health care cost in the United States. An important question for further research is how program design and implementation can improve program effects.

Our Experience Says Wellness Works

Our own extensive experience with Lockton Health Risk Solutions® tells us that workplace wellness programs can work if certain criteria are present in the program. Every day our experts help organizations understand the difference between aggressively managed, outcomes-based programs versus programs that are more participation based. They evaluate each client’s needs and goals, designing programs that can deliver desired results. Most importantly, they help organizations develop plans for ongoing program evaluation and fine tuning to help create success, both for employees and organizations.

 To understand the most effective way to create a health risk management program, read our recently published white paper, Outcomes-Based Health Risk Management: More Than a Wellness Program.

 If you have questions, please contact your Lockton account team or send an email to the Lockton Benefit Group Health Risk Solutions team.