New Feature: Our Answer to the HRA

Our clients have asked for a tool to measure the attitudes and habits of their employee population without going through a full-blown Health-Risk Assessment,. We thought this was a great idea. We’ve just launched Questions. Questions gives wellness admins the ability to “see inside” their employees, to accurately map employee habits that effect health and wellness, and to craft a wellness strategy that works for each individual company. We call the Questions feature an “HRA lite” because it gives our clients the power of the HRA, without the cost or hassle.

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More about HRAs: Many companies launch their wellness program with an HRA, or a Health Risk Assessment. But let’s face it: HRAs are typically long questionnaires that are annoying to fill out, don’t provide any real wellness value, and, at up to $40 a pop, burn through wellness dollars faster than you can say “health.”

The true value of HRAs lie in their ability to accurately map a population. If your employee population tends toward obesity, which is a leading predictor of diabetes and heart disease, you need to know that. If your population, on the other hand, is young and active, you need to know that, too. The real value of the HRA is to help the wellness administrator craft a wellness strategy that works for her population.

How the Questions feature works: It’s easy. From the admin pane of your Walker Tracker account, just type the question you want to ask. You can make the question “required” before users continue to their account, or you can set the question as part of account registration. You can even assign points for answering it, if you use our points system. Questions and answers are logged into the account information download, so you can measure a baseline, progress, and program-end status.

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Questions is our answer to the HRA. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

ROI for Company Walking Programs

Corporate HR Administrators often ask us about the Return on Investment (ROI) on walking programs. Here are a few great links that we send them. Calculating ROI can be challenging, since you’re measuring program participation and costs, absenteeism, improved productivity, fewer insurance claims, stress reduction and a variety of other factors, including many non-quantitative benefits to a walking program (less gas consumed!). We are happy to work with you to determine the ROI on your program over time.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has some great data:

Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

“worksite health programs focused on lifestyle behavior change have
been shown to yield a $3 to $6 return on investment (ROI) for each
dollar invested.”

CDC’s Leanworks ROI page:

“It is estimated that employers spend $13 billion annually on the total cost of obesity. Approximately 9.1% of all health care costs in the United States are related to obesity and overweight.

Workplace obesity prevention and control programs can be an effective way for employers to reduce obesity. They can produce a direct financial return on investment (ROI) by lowering health care costs, lowering absenteeism, and increasing employee productivity.”

They also have an obesity cost calculator which is an excellent tool for determining how much obesity might be costing your company.

WalkBC is a fantastic website put together by Heart & Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon and the BC Recreation & Parks Association.
Business Case for Workplace Walking Programs

“Return on investment – Canada Life in Toronto showed a return of
$6.85 for every $1 invested in its Workplace Wellness program; while
the Canadian government realized $1.95-$3.75 per employee per $1

Benefits of Physical Activity in the Workplace

Cost effective ways to promote physical exercise in adults?

There’s an intriguing new study out of Australia (University of Queensland) this week. They studied six types of interventions to encourage physical activity in adults, the two most cost-effective were:

  • pedometers
  • mass media campaigns

The press release is here.

I liked the editors’ summary (pdf), which contained this opener:

The human body needs regular physical activity throughout life to stay healthy. Physical activity—any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that uses energy—helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer. In addition, physically active people feel better and live longer than physically inactive people. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly, gardening, swimming, or cycling—at least five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But at least 60% of the world’s population does not do even this modest amount of physical activity.

The daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary. People are sitting at desks all day instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work in cars instead of walking or cycling; and they are participating less in physical activities during their leisure time.