Over the years, company wellness programs have become the norm among most employers. In fact, according to the CDC, nearly half of all US employers offered some health promotion or wellness program in 2017. And that number has continued to grow.
While there are a lot of different programs with varying levels of resources, education, support, and engagement, the best company wellness programs all share these three key features.
The best company wellness programs aren’t laser-focused on a single aspect of employee health and wellness. Instead, they take a holistic approach to care, understanding that there are multiple factors that contribute to overall well-being. In fact, the Gallup Organization states that, “Companies are most successful at creating a culture of well-being when they provide managers with the right tools for a holistic, multifaceted approach. Workers are more likely to thrive when their companies and managers address their needs…rather than simply focusing on Physical Well-Being interventions, such as programs that encourage employees to exercise or quit smoking.”
This includes addressing physical health, mental and behavioral health, and financial health.
It’s safe to assume that most traditional company wellness programs focus almost exclusively on the physical health of employees. And there’s good reason for that. The CDC reports that five chronic diseases/behaviors – high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity – cost employers $36.4 billion each year because of absenteeism. When you address these primary drivers behind most of your health care expenses, you’ll enjoy more controlled costs, better productivity, and a healthier, happier employee population.
Mental & Behavioral Health
We know that 1/3 of people with chronic medical conditions have a higher risk of depression and other emotional health issues. In turn, we also know that those who have emotional health issues like depression are more likely to develop physical illnesses. The best company wellness programs go beyond physical health to also address employees’ mental and behavioral health. By doing so, they empower employees to seek assistance when they need it most, promoting positive behavior change that lasts.
A recent Society for Human Resource Management study showed that financial stress causes a 34% increase in employee absenteeism and tardiness. It revealed that workers worried about things like debt, saving for retirement, and covering basic living expenses. A Lockton Retirement Services study found that employees reporting high levels of stress due to financial concerns were four times as likely to suffer from physical and emotional issues than their counterparts. This goes to show that helping employees address their financial health can reduce their stress levels, therefore minimizing their risk of physical and emotional health problem.
Today, there’s no excuse for health and wellness programs to not use data to drive nearly everything they do. The best company wellness programs take advantage of employee data to create intelligent employee profiles that identify individual risks and needs. This information should include:
- Health Risk Assessment Data
- Claims Information
- Biometric Results
- Compliance Data
- Prescription Usage
- Social Determinants of Health
- Motivation Levels & Willingness to Change
Pairing data about each employee with smart technology ensures that employees get the right help they need at the right time. It also enables your company wellness program provider to formulate a personalized health and wellness journey for each employee. As a result, employees experience better health literacy, sustainable behavior change, as well as better overall health and well-being.
Active, Effective Outreach
The Gallup Organization states, “Though more than 85% of large employers offer a wellness program, Gallup research shows that only 60% of U.S. employees are aware that their company offers a wellness program — and only 40% of those who are aware of the program say they actually participate in it.” The effectiveness of your program is in direct proportion to the number of employees who are actively engaged. There’s nothing worse than investing in a program that nobody knows about, nobody trusts, and nobody uses.
The best company wellness programs know that a health and wellness program isn’t “set it and forget it.” And unlike in Field of Dreams, even if you build it, your employees won’t come unless you use consistent, high-touch outreach to drive participation.
To ensure active, effective employee engagement, your partner must develop a clear communication plan that cuts through the noise, elicits trust in the program, and incentivizes meaningful participation. The plan must take advantage of multiple communication channels, including email, direct mail, texting, personal telephone calls, health and fitness challenges, on-site events, meaningful incentives, and more. And, don’t forget #2 on our list…hyper-personalized communications for employees so they get the right message for them, at the right time.
A robust, meaningful company wellness program helps recruit the finest talent, retain the best workforce, and keep employees happy and healthy. When evaluating a program and a partner, to ensure success and return on investment, make sure that these three key features are an integral part of the plan.