How Non-profits Can Leverage Health & Wellness to Control Cost

Tim Hayden

Health & Wellness Program’s Impact on Cost Control for Non-profits | Timothy Hayden | Corporate Synergies
How Non-profits Can Leverage Health & Wellness to Control Cost

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Recruiting and retaining talent is an age-old conundrum for non-profit organizations. Typically, salaries in these organizations are not as high as their for-profit counterparts, and they need to balance the scales through more employee-friendly benefits like health & wellness programs.

Health & wellness programs that promote a positive culture in the workplace are sought after by employers. These programs have even become recruiting tools for organizations and provide tools that cater to their employee base.

A focus on health & wellness is also widely known to increase productivity among employees. The healthier they are, the more time they will spend at work, rather than at home sick or dealing with various medical issues. In addition, a wellness program can lower insurance costs over several years.

But creating and implementing a program with limited resources can be difficult. Non-profits, like a growing number of for-profit companies, often work with modest budgets and lean HR teams. Beyond the cost of launching and managing an initiative, HR managers may have a hard time convincing the C-suite the investment is worth it. They also have a hard time convincing management that a health & wellness program is worth sticking to for three to five years, the time it often takes to see results.

In 2 years, 1 non-profit saw rate increases drop from double digits to 8% with a health & wellness program.

Understanding how to keep employees engaged can be another challenge. And without engagement, the program will undoubtedly fail.

But there are successful programs at non-profits out there. By taking some cues from them, you can learn how to implement a successful program of your own.

One  Non-profit’s Successful Health & Wellness Program

Consider this real life scenario: A non-profit organization with 300 employees faced 15-18% health insurance rate increases for three consecutive years. They knew they needed to reduce costs. They tried wellness initiatives, like a smoking cessation program, gym membership reimbursement and weight reduction, but these disconnected programs saw low engagement.

Beyond cost savings—which were a huge driver—the non-profit needed a health & wellness program that aligned with their mission of improving health. They knew they needed to practice what they were preaching to their own clients.

They presented these facts to leadership to help get buy-in. They also presented the idea of using outside resources to help them craft a program that would not only be cost-effective, but would incorporate proven tactics.

After getting approval to move forward with program design, the leadership team, HR and the organization’s health & welfare benefits broker developed goals and created a three-year health & wellness plan. Writing down goals helped to ensure that everyone was on the same page. Written goals also helped stakeholders—from HR through the C-suite—to easily monitor progress.

Health & Wellness Program Resources and Design

To create a health & wellness program on a smaller budget, HR leaders looked to their broker’s expertise, as well as to insurance carriers for programs to leverage for employees. In addition, the organization used outside wellness vendors to provide affordable services and decrease the load on internal resources.

The non-profit’s health & wellness program included:

To ensure employees were aware of the program and understood how it worked, the non-profit worked with its partners to create a content and communications strategy. Targeted messaging educated employees about the program and its benefits and kept them engaged as new components began.

The Non-profit’s Results

In just two years after the implementation of the health & wellness program, the non-profit saw renewal rate increases drop from double digits to just 8%. They’ve also seen increased employee engagement, increased participation in biometrics screening and the health fair, an increase in use of the carrier website, and lower utilization of deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket costs. This means employees are saving money.

All signs point to the health & wellness program’s continued success. And the non-profit and their partners plan to extend the program in coming years by implementing a health savings account and increasing communication to spouses and dependents on the plan. Communicating with everyone who’s insured can further help to contain costs. Often the employee is not the person making a household’s healthcare decisions, and they aren’t the only one using the benefits.

By creating clear goals at the start of a health & wellness program and using cost-saving resources, this non-profit reduced insurance costs for themselves and their employees. The organization created a culture of wellness as part of employee engagement and increased the participation in their programs by two-fold.


© 2017 Corporate Synergies Group, LLC. No part of this material may be republished or distributed without prior written consent.

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