With a mission of cultivating a culture of health, Alcon has supported employee wellness since 1993. Beginning with healthy nutrition and fitness activities, Alcon’s program has since grown and expanded to incorporate a broader set of initiatives coupled with incentives. In 2010, Alcon’s employees participated in an average of 31 unique wellness activities with 63% completing a health assessment and biometric screenings. In an effort to further grow its program, Alcon has recruited 130 volunteer employee champions that complete an accreditation program, encourage peers to participate, and organize onsite activities such as flu shots and 5K races. Alcon’s commitment to wellness has led to reductions in health risks and healthcare expenditures, and a positive return on investment (ROI) for its highly engaged employees.
Narrative Description of Program
Alcon, the global leader in eye care, became the second largest division of the Novartis Group on April 8, 2011, following the closing of the merger between Alcon and Novartis. The company develops, manufactures and markets surgical equipment and devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer vision care products in more than 180 countries. Alcon’s mission is to discover and develop innovative eye care products that improve the quality of life by helping people see better.
As a leading worldwide pharmaceutical company, Alcon is committed to the promotion of health in all communities and puts this belief into practice in its own employee population. The company supports a comprehensive and integrated corporate health and wellness program.
Prior to the merger with Novartis, Alcon had approximately 7,500 associates in the U.S. and Alcon’s Vitality program was made available to all U.S. employees and spouses covered under Alcon’s medical plans. Data obtained before the merger showed that the average age was 45; fifty‐two percent of the population was male and approximately two‐thirds were white collar. There were six Alcon facilities in the U.S. and a robust field‐based sales force. The corporate headquarters had approximately 3,200 employees, manufacturing facilities had approximately 500‐650 employees each and the field‐based sales force was comprised of approximately 1,000 employees.
Alcon has been successful at driving participation in its wellness program and creating behavior change across a diverse – geographic, economic, education level, etc. – employee population.
Health Management Strategy/Program
Alcon initiated its wellness program in 1993 with simple awareness‐building health and wellness initiatives – since then, the program has evolved into a robust, comprehensive and integrated program:
- 1993 – Alcon took its first steps toward improving their employees’ health and wellness. The initial program included the promotion of healthy nutrition and fitness activities.
- 1994 – The program quickly expanded. Alcon implemented a variety of other wellness initiatives including a smoking cessation class, on‐site mammograms and stress awareness programming.
- 1997 – The company expanded its program even more and provided a wide variety of wellness initiatives and activities, including male health screenings, skin cancer awareness and screenings, implementation of a health risk appraisal and much more. Participation was also gradually increasing.
- 2005 – Alcon made a strategic decision to further invest in its employees’ wellness versus reduce health benefits.
- 2006 – Based on the decision made in 2005, the company decided to tie completion of the HRA to access to its premier medical plan.
- 2008 – Alcon expanded its wellness programming by incorporating a broader set of verifiable wellness activities (more than 30 verifiable activities) and incentives through the Vitality health and wellness program. Alcon retirees under the age of 65 are eligible to participate and the program also includes activities for children.
- 2010 – At the beginning of 2010, Alcon decided to move to the next level of wellness engagement. The company removed the HRA requirement to access the premier medical plan, but instead tied 2010 participation in selected activities to an employee contribution discount in the 2011 medical plan.
Alcon developed a communications strategy built around “high touch” employee interaction to communicate the program throughout the U.S. Alcon reached out to human resources contacts at the various Alcon facilities. Alcon created information booths at all sites (building entrances and cafeterias) for all shifts, attended department and smaller scale employee meetings, sought support of management and communicated regularly on the U.S. Alcon Local Connection site. The overall goal was (and continues to be) to promote and facilitate a culture of health that integrates activities and incentives to encourage employees to choose healthy behaviors and make smarter choices.
Alcon’s communications strategy leverages executive leadership support, employee success stories and broad based corporate communications and onsite events to promote the program and create a culture of health. The
Vitality program is integrated with Alcon’s medical plan benefit, so communications are heavily integrated with all health benefits communications. Alcon and Vitality also conduct webinar meetings for employees and spouses, onsite events to raise awareness, and feature employee success stories prominently in employee communications.
A key component to the success of the program is the Vitality Champs program. Vitality Champs are a group of approximately 130 employees who volunteer to lead and encourage their peers in wellness engagement. Vitality
Champs are required to complete a rigorous accreditation program and are supported with monthly meetings and continuing education including new initiatives to create ongoing visibility of the program, special topics (heart health, bone density, sun safety, men’s and women’s health issues, etc.), ideas for planning company wellness events and discussion about how to enhance engagement based on information and insights gleaned from monthly, quarterly and annual reports. The Vitality Champs, led by a program manager and seven human resources champs, organize onsite activities and events, such as:
- 5K run/walks (every other weekend at Ft. Worth location and occasionally at other sites)
- Biometric screenings
- Onsite fitness assessments
- Blood donations
- Weight loss and management programs
- Mobile mammography screenings
- Flu shots
The Vitality Champs also coordinate and manage contests, develop bulletin boards and conduct testimonial interviews.
Alcon assesses the health risks of its workforce through the annual HRA. Furthermore, the Vitality program provides a personalized program for each employee and spouse based on their unique risk profile. Each employee’s personalized program is customized based on responses from the HRA and verified data from biometric screenings (Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and tobacco use) provided at no cost to employees and spouses. Each member is provided recommended health improvement goals and a set of activities applicable to their individual health needs. As employees engage in the program and participate in a recommended set of activities, they accumulate points redeemable for merchandise, such as movie tickets, i‐Tunes gift certificates, digital cameras, appliances, hotel stays and even flat screen televisions for those who are fully engaged in the program.
Alcon’s Vitality program provides access to health and wellness resources (including health education content and online programs, biometric screening partners, devices for tracking activity, gyms, etc.) and motivates members to participate. In addition, Alcon has invested in making other health and wellness programs available to its employees through its medical plans, disease management program, U.S. onsite wellness and fitness centers, onsite medical clinic (Fort Worth location), and a U.S. automated external defibrillator program. Through the program, Alcon also works with its cafeteria vendors to provide employees with the option of choosing healthy food in the workplace.
Alcon’s executive leaders support the wellness program and empower the Global Benefits and Health team to be creative with programming and communicate the program widely. They support onsite events, including those occurring on the weekend or evenings, and they enable employees to complete the HRA and explore Vitality on work computers.
|Program Name||Alcon's Vitality Program|
|Company Name and Address||Alcon Laboratories
6201 South Freeway Q 142
Fort Worth, Texas 76134
|Contact Person||Don Snyder|
|Year Program Started
||All U.S. employees (including retirees under the age of 65) and spouses covered under Alcon’s medical plans.|
|Number of Participants in Past Year
||Alcon Laboratories’ mission is to cultivate a culture of health through a wellness program by integrating activities and incentives that encourage employees to choose healthy behaviors and make smarter choices.|
|Program goals (in priority order)||(1) Improve employee health status and reduce healthcare cost through individual empowerment(2) Increase productivity and improve employee relations(3) Increase the effectiveness of Alcon’s wellness program by measuring and verifying participation in wellness activities and rewarding employees for engaging in healthy behaviors|
Alcon Laboratories’ mission is to cultivate a culture of health through a wellness program by integrating activities and incentives that encourage employees to choose healthy behaviors and make smarter choices. Alcon took its first steps toward improving their employees’ health and wellness in 1993. In 2008, Alcon made a strategic decision to incentivize and reward employees for their participation. To properly evaluate the effectiveness and maintain a return on investment (ROI), Alcon implemented a program that relies on verified (versus self‐reported) activities and measureable outcomes. Verifiability is critical as it enables Alcon to regularly and properly monitor program participation, preserve incentive linkage to ROI and overall effectiveness. Alcon’s comprehensive wellness program provides education, access (though a variety of initiatives and a broad network of partners) and motivation (through the use of effectively designed incentives) to help employees engage in healthy behaviors. Alcon’s wellness initiative helps employees achieve their personal wellness goals and also rewards them for their efforts – with cost savings, tangible rewards and the benefits of better health.
Based on input to the Health Risk Assessment (HRA), each Alcon employee is provided with a personalized program based on their own unique risk profile. The program is web‐based but components can also be administered by paper, email or telephonic support. A full‐time program manager is responsible for integrating services to the various business units and manufacturing shift schedules. The program also provides broad access for employees to engage in activities through onsite activities.
Alcon regularly measures and evaluates the program performance. This input is used to evaluate program efficacy and modifications are made as needed. To date, the program results are positive and quite promising.
Noteworthy key findings include:
Employee participation in wellness initiatives is significant: engaged employees complete an average of 36 unique activities. There has been a steady increase in fitness activities, with nearly 50 percent of employees participating in verified fitness activities during 2010.
- Participation is also increasing. Based on key learnings, Alcon made changes to the program in 2010. These changes were impactful – from 2009 to 2010, member utilization of online courses and tools increased 80 percent and participation in verified activities increased 24 percent.
- From 2009 to 2010, the average activities per engaged member increased by 48 percent, from 21 to 31 activities.
Through the program, Alcon is also seeing an improvement in modifiable risk factors:
- For those categorized as “high risk”, but more importantly for all risk factors, employees who decrease risk are significantly more engaged in Vitality than those who remain inactive.
- An analysis of the migrations between risk categories shows that Alcon has been successful in preventing a deterioration of risk factors and achieving a net reduction in risks.
In addition, an analysis of medical and pharmacy claim costs reveals significant savings for members that are highly engaged in the Vitality program.
The following are verbatim remarks made by the reviewers:
- 64.3% participation, a good amount for a company of this size. Program includes retirees, a very strong marketing campaign and senior leadership support. Program is tied to benefits plan and spouses are encouraged to participate. Employees from all risk categories are participating.
- Program demonstrated an increase in productivity, an ROI of 1.16 and 1.48 in 2009 & 2010 respectively.
- Long-standing program
- Use of verifiable and measurable outcomes
- Full-time program manager
- Ties participation to employee contribution discount
- Includes dependents who are also on the health plan
- High touch communication strategy
- Multichannel approach to communication includes vitality champs
- Social and peer support element
- Use of biometric screening and personalized program
- Multi-method assessment
- Risk factor evaluation tied to organizational objectives
- Wellness program integrated with other health benefits
- Shifted focus to be actual participation and activities rather than simply HRA completion
- Also measured awareness
- Engages participants across the population by risk level
- Solid risk reduction in high-risk category good overall risk transitions and measurement of costs across risk level
- Good use of statistical controls despite no actual experimental control groups
- High participation, good straightforward program
- Program has been in place for a good amount of time with program evolution shown and an increase in participation.
- Good methodology on some parts of evaluation but was also unclear in numerous sections.
- Although this program has been active for 18 years, it seems to be always changing, have a broad strategy and good visibility. There is a great emphasis on engagement. An incentive was added in 2008 (merchandise) and in 2011 part of the incentive will be tied to medical plan discounts. HR and peer leaders share responsibility for promoting and implementing the program. HRA completion is required as is goal setting and completion of 5 actions to get the incentive. Evaluated risk group migration and compared risks to Healthy people targets. In all cases Alcon was better except in the area of obesity. They viewed groups by level of engagement when assessing cost savings and productivity. Measured productivity using a subset of questions on the health assessment. Their engagement averages are very good – in ’09 participants had an average of 25 actions; in 2010 the average was 36. Presented a detailed image of costs considered in the ROI calculations. Claims analysis used quasi-experimental matching – low/med engagement group vs. high engagement group. Saving were $1.7 M – a 1.5 to 1 ROI.
- Using verified data.
- Allowing employees to complete HRA through web, paper and pencil and telephone.
- High participation rates
- High engagement among participating employees
- Decision to focus on improving health
- Offering the program to families and retirees
- Use of high touch communication strategy
- Use of accreditation program for Wellness Champs
- Use of incentives, environmental enhancements and engaging top management
- Integration of program into health plan
- Broad range of outcome measures
- Use of interviews to measure satisfaction
- Well informed analysis approach
- Excellent health and financial impact
- Pell Verified outcome measures with employees and spouses.
- Well designed incentives with employee medical plan contribution discounts.
- “Vitality Champs” of voluntary employees.
- Required (up to 20l1) HRA completion at 90%.etier
- “Vitality Champs” program of having employee champions is innovative.
- Use of Allowed Amounts shows some sophistication in financial analysis.
- Acknowledgement of impact of PTO (Paid Time Off) policy on inability to measure absenteeism is an element of sophistication.
- Comprehensive programming for employees and spouses
- Incentive tied to access to richer medical plan plus points to purchase additional incentives
- Robust approach to communications including champion network
- Senior leadership support and engagement
- Multi-method approach to evaluation including comparisons to Healthy People 2020 and rigorous claims based analysis.
- Strong program participation