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.
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” type solution. Employees are looking for programs and services that are personalized to them. Ones that will have the most impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, as employers, you’re looking to control rising health care costs and have the insight you need to make better business decisions in regards to your wellness strategy.
While there are a lot of different solutions with varying levels of resources, education, support, and engagement, 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. 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 health care 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.
2. Data Analytics & Intelligence
Today, there’s no excuse for wellbeing 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 they need at the right time. It also enables your solution 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 wellbeing.
On the employer side, timely analytics and comprehensive reporting provides the insight that you need to drive business decisions that can help save time, money and create a productive workforce. Having that deep understanding of your employee population’s health and wellbeing also enables you to understand the drivers of your health care costs so you can effectively address them through plan design changes, pharmacy benefit changes, 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.” The effectiveness of your wellbeing solution 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 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, should be used 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, retain the best workforce. And it’ll keep your employees healthy and happy. 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.