Corporate Wellness: Why Engagement Isn't Enough

You've tried it all: 30 day challenges, weight loss competitions, 5k runs, recipe contests, and more. Despite trying every idea you can possibly think of to increase employee engagement, the health risk factors of your employee population have not budged. You very well may have significantly increased participation rates and successfully created a "culture of wellness" throughout the company. And while participation rates are an easy metric to track, is employee engagement enough to affect the health costs of your employees? Wellness seminars, conferences, trainings, and articles strive to provide strategies to increase employee engagement. But what happens when engagement is high and health impact results are poor? After all, the whole point of corporate wellness is to reduce healthcare costs.

All too often we see corporate wellness programs working in the wrong direction. They start with an idea to drive participation but fail to consider the final outcome. Instead, when we start with the end goal of improved health outcomes in mind, we are able to work backwards. We begin by identifying the health risk we want to address, find evidence-based programs shown to successfully improve the health risk, and work with the appropriate experts to implement.

Now, more than ever, nutrition programs are shown to be one of the top interventions that result in positive health outcomes. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Evidence Analysis Library, "In overweight or obese adults, strong evidence supports the effectiveness of multiple visits for Medical Nutrition Therapy by a nutrition professional (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or equivalent)." The evidence showed improvements in weight, waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides! Not only is there a health benefit, there is a cost savings as well. "Consistent evidence supports that cost-effectiveness, cost benefit and economic savings of Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in overweight and obese adults. Using a variety of cost-effectiveness analyses, the studies affirm that Medical Nutrition Therapy resulted in improved weight loss and improved quality of life."

While trendy wellness programs may help with participation, why waste your time and budget on a program that doesn't give you long-term health outcome improvements and cost savings? Instead, invest in providing your target employees with visits with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. The outcomes will speak for themselves. Once employees begin to see the positive results, word will spread and participation will increase as other employees want to experience the same positive health results. And you will experience a successful wellness program that not only has participants but also has great outcomes and cost savings.