Recent IBM Study Demonstrates Successful Employee Wellness Program

by: Nichole Gunn January 11, 2011

IBM dangled the proverbial carrot in front of its employees in an effort to involve them and their families in a 12-week corporate wellness program. The study proved to be a success.

Offering a cash reward of $150 to participate in the Children’s Health Rebate wellness program, IBM structured a program for employees with children that offered a list of healthy lifestyle activities to choose from. The options included eating healthier as a family, increasing family oriented exercise, and “positive parental role-modeling.”

Of its 40,000 plus U.S. employees, over 22,000 enrolled in the program, and 50% of those involved successfully completed it.

"Employers spend a lot of time thinking about how to get their employees healthy, and while the employee is an important factor, what about the family?” noted study senior author Dee Edington, director of the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center. He explained that if an employee has a sick child, chances are the employee will be sick also, or need time to care for the child. “So, if you're going to have a healthy culture, you need to think about having healthy families as well."

Dee went on to theorize that the program was most likely successful because of the information provided about the benefits that could be reaped. Receiving $150 to improve their families’ health was a “no-brainer.”

The study results were released in the November issue of Pediatrics. It is one of a growing number of studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of employee wellness programs. The employee is guided toward a healthier lifestyle, and the company’s healthcare costs are thereby reduced.