Engaging employees in wellness programs is challenging at the best of times, but for employers in industries where the majority of workers are not in an office setting – construction or retail, for example – it can be even more difficult.

Nearly eight years after embarking on its wellness journey, Hill & Wilkinson, a construction management company near Dallas, Texas, has learned that while it’s important to offer a variety of wellness programming so employees don’t get bored, it’s equally important to be consistent.

“I always push to get something new in the program just so it doesn’t get stale,” says Paul Driscoll, CEO of Hill & Wilkinson. And while the company’s offering has been anything but stale, Driscoll notes that consistency can also help get employees interested and engaged. To that end, the company has provided programs including fitness boot camps, onsite fitness centers and classes, morning work-outs, as well as opportunities for staff to be involved in local charity events such as 5K races, cancer awareness walks and blood drives.

“The thing that I realized is that you just have to be consistent with the offerings and then they’ll show up,” says Driscoll, although he notes that exact costs and savings for wellness can sometimes harder to value. “It’s not black and white. It’s very grey and [you have to consider] what are your health costs if you didn’t have a wellness program.”

See also: Health care benefits in 2015: What employers need to know

Hill & Wilkinson’s more than 250 employees range from craft laborers to carpenters and helpers, and include superintendents who manage job sites and office administration support staff.

“Health change is a complex process … it can take years to manifest,” says Mike Lamb, CEO of Viverae, a health management and wellness vendor that manages Hill & Wilkinson’s wellness program.  “What our core belief is – and Hill & Wilkinson is a great example of this – [is that] the initial name of the game is to drive employee engagement. When employees are engaged to positively manage their health, over time their health risk factors will improve. And in most cases, that will lead to cost containment.”

See also:  An unconventional approach to wellness planning

In 2008, senior management at Hill & Wilkinson decided it needed to specifically tackle the issue of its ever-increasing health insurance costs. “The initial idea was to keep our health costs under control,” says Driscoll, adding that the company enjoys a tight-knit culture that is somewhat unusual in the general contracting business.

“The contractors’ business is tough enough, so we try to make it an easier, fun place,” he adds. At first, Driscoll explains that the company took it “real slow,” with its wellness program and, in the first year, included just a health risk assessment. In the years that followed, Hill & Wilkinson added little pieces that now make up its full health improvement program, including a points program and employee discounts on health insurance. Employees can receive up to $750 and up to $1,500 for an employee and their family members who participate in a preventative exam or health challenge.

Hill & Wilkinson also exemplifies the importance of C-suite involvement in wellness, says Lamb. “[Driscoll] is always the first one at those screening events, he provided all of the procurement for all the onsite facilities that Hill & Wilkinson has,” says Lamb. “That is a terrific example of leading the culture personally, and when that happens, you usually see high participation.”

More than 80% of employees at Hill & Wilkinson participate in the company’s wellness program in some way, Lamb says. The firm’s health score improved by almost 4% for employees who have moved their risk factors from medium to low, and it lowered its high-risk cohort by over 24% in the last couple of years, Lamb adds. Measures such as blood pressure, weight and cholesterol have also decreased, resulting in a “favorable claim trend,” explains Lamb.

See also: 5 crucial areas for employer health care cost management

Moreover, Driscoll notes that the company’s cardiac risk ratio has dropped to 1.8% from 4%, which he notes is a “vast improvement.” The average age for Hill & Wilkinson employees is about 46.6, according to Viverae data.

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