By John Kahle, Intercare Insurance Solutions

Smart investments pay huge dividends. Investing in corporate wellness programs paid off for 20 local businesses that are being recognized as winners in “San Diego’s Healthiest Companies 2012 Awards”. All 20 companies would agree there is an even bigger payout – a healthier workforce.

About the Award

On May 16, 2012, the San Diego Business Journal and Intercare Insurance Solutions hosted the third annual San Diego’s Healthiest Companies Awards. The awards honored local companies that are investing in and committed to creating a healthier workplace.

There were nearly 60 nominees in four categories – small, medium and large

San Diego-based companies and companies with local employees, but headquartered outside San Diego.

About the Nominees

Nominees represented San Diego’s diverse business community with companies from a variety of sectors including biotechnology, financial services, high technology and hospitality. In all, 18 different industries were represented.

Sixty-eight percent of the nominees have fewer than 600 employees. The largest number of nominees (37 percent) fell into the small company category, defined as fewer than 100 employees.

As in past years, nominees completed a rigorous online nomination that included questions about each company’s leadership, wellness investments, data collection, wellness communications, health and wellness programs and ROI.

The rigorous application process and comprehensive responses to San Diego’s Healthiest Companies is a tribute to all of the nominees’ commitment to creating a culture of health in their organizations.

Employers Value Investment

There is a change in the way employers think about health care. Once viewed merely as a line item on the balance sheet, savvy employers now view health care as an investment in the future of their business.

And the trend is growing. According to Intercare’s soon-to-be-released 2012 San Diego Benefit Survey, 34 percent of responding companies currently offer some type of wellness program and 29 percent plan to implement a wellness program in the next 12 months; nearly doubling the number of local companies actively engaging in wellness.

But wellness programs don’t just happen; implementing wellness requires an upfront investment of people, time and money. Most of San Diego’s Healthiest Companies nominees (73 percent) established a wellness budget and 99 percent retained or increased that budget over the last year with an average increase of 108 percent. On average, six individuals per company invest time as one of the staff members responsible for wellness initiatives.

The Value on Investment (VOI) is a new type of measurement which illustrates a shift in focus for benefit and wellness initiatives. Employers now assess the value of a health or wellness benefit versus just the traditional cost analysis presented by insurers.