Over the years, company wellness programs have become the norm with 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.
As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for more intelligent, advanced programs has become more apparent. In today’s world, it’s not enough to have a “set it and forget it” solution. Employees are looking for personalized programs and services that will have the most impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, as employers, you’re looking for information to make better decisions regarding your strategy to control health care costs and support your employees.
Today, there are many different solutions with varying levels of resources, education, support, and engagement. However, the best company wellness programs all share these three key features. Without them, you’ll be hard pressed to get the best results possible.
1. Holistic Approach
The best company wellness programs aren’t laser-focused on a single aspect of wellness. Instead, they take a holistic approach to care, understanding that there are multiple factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. 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 means that programs should effectively address the whole person, including their physical health, mental and behavioral health, and financial health. Only then will you effectively address the issues that your employees are facing.
It’s safe to assume that most traditional company wellness programs focus almost exclusively on the physical health of employees. 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 key drivers of health care expenses, you can better control health care costs while improving productivity and providing greater support for your employees. But physical health shouldn’t be your only focus.
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 addition, we 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 mental and behavioral health. By doing so, they empower employees to seek assistance when they need it most, promoting positive behavior change and healthy habits that last.
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 financial health can reduce their stress levels. Reducing stress minimizes the risk of physical and emotional health issues.
2. Data Analytics & Intelligence
Today, there’s no excuse for wellness solutions 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 digital innovation ensures that program members get the right care at the right time. It also enables your solution provider to guide personalized health and wellness journeys for each employee. As a result, employees better understand their overall health and available benefits. They also experience greater support to achieve sustainable behavior change and positive results.
On the employer side, timely analytics and comprehensive reporting provides the insight that you need to drive business decisions that can help save time and money. Having a deep understanding of your employee population allows you to effectively address health care costs through your plan design, pharmacy benefits, and more.
3. Active, Informed 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.” Ultimately, the effectiveness of your wellbeing solution boils down to the number of employees that actively participate. 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 wellbeing 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 health and wellbeing solution partner must develop a clear, personalized 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 — using employee data analytics to customize communication plans so outreach is timely and relevant to each member.
A robust, meaningful company wellness program will help you recruit the finest talent and retain the best workforce. And it’ll support your employees on their path to living their best lives. When evaluating health and wellbeing solutions, to ensure success and better value on investment, make sure that these three key features are an integral part of the plan.