Mercer Outlines Framework for Wellness Campaigns

October 5, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new report from Mercer Health & Benefits outlines the framework for effective wellness campaigns.

“Rewards for Healthy Lifestyles” by Steven Noeldner, PhD discusses a model developed by Mercer to help employers promote employee behavior change. The model includes three phases: Awareness-Commitment, Skill Building, and Maintenance, the report said.

In the first phase, individuals recognize that behavior changes would provide benefits, or help them avoid unpleasant consequences. Once an individual is aware of the need to make a change, Noeldner said in his report, the individual needs to make a commitment to make the change.

During the skill-building phase, individuals gain the knowledge, skills and self-efficacy needed to act on and meet their commitment. Noeldner says healthy lifestyle contests provide the opportunity for employees to try out new behaviors – a component of skill building. The report said contests should be designed to appeal to a broad range of employees and should focus on incremental change instead of hard to attain goals.

Some examples of popular health improvement contests or campaigns given in the report are smoking cessation programs, exercise campaigns, healthy eating campaigns, health improvement seminars, community wellness events, and weight loss contests. Use of rewards or incentives has been proven to drive enrollment in such events, Noeldner said.

During the maintenance phase, individuals learn to face and deal with obstacles they may encounter, and to manage lapses in their commitment, the report said. Individual lifestyle choices influence health and, in turn, health care costs.

A copy of the complete report is available free of charge by emailing hbmercerlink@hrknowhow.com . The subject line should say MHR_Request_Comp_copy:Reward.

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