FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR YOUR POPULATION
What You'll Learn:
Wellness programs are quickly becoming one of the top three employee benefits, but not all wellness programs are created equal. Your wellness program is a reflection of your organization’s culture and should meet the needs of all your employees, no matter how diverse or dispersed your population is.
HOW TO FIND A WELLNESS VENDOR
There are as many wellness vendors out there as there are companies who use them, making the process of finding a wellness vendor painful.
The easiest place to start when looking for a wellness vendor is internally. If you don’t know what your company’s goals are for its wellness program and you don’t know what your employees are interested in, you might as well type “corporate wellness program” into a search engine and pick the first program you see. Chances are, it won’t be successful. Not because it’s not a good program, but because it’s hard to create a successful program without knowing what your benchmarks are.
Define Your Goals
Be careful about tying your wellness goals to ROI, or return on investment. Numerous studies have shown wellness programs have little measurable ROI (no matter what certain companies would have you believe). ROI could be a reduction in claims, absenteeism and health care costs. But wellness programs don’t live in a vacuum. They work in concert with a robust benefits plan, a transparent communication strategy and engaged leadership. If your company lacks any of these, don’t plan on seeing any positive outcomes from your wellness program.
Don’t confuse disease management programs with wellness programs. Disease management programs (DMPs) are structured treatment plans that aim to help people better manage their chronic disease and to maintain and improve quality of life. DMPs are also run with the general goal of improving medical treatment in the long term. They are also called “structured treatment programs.”
If you do have a DMP, it should work seamlessly with any wellness program vendor.
If you do have a winning corporate culture, set reasonable expectations around goals. Start with participation and employee satisfaction goals. If your employees are taking advantage of wellness offerings AND are happy with them, chances are you should expect to see some changes.
CREATING AN EMPLOYEE WELLNESS SURVEY
Speaking of employees - what is it THEY want in a wellness program? If you haven’t done a population survey, now’s the time.
Questions should include:
- Demographic information
- Areas of interest
- Usage patterns (when, where, how)
Once you have the data, a clearer path to a wellness vendor should emerge.
TYPES OF WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Think of building your wellness program like you would build a well-stocked tool kit. While a hammer might do the trick in some circumstances, chances are you also need a wrench, screwdriver, and tape measure.
In other words, there isn’t one solution that will work for all your needs.
A platform is a great tool if you’re a large, global operation with a diverse employee base. It allows you to reach your entire population and track large amounts of data. If used correctly, platforms can be a great way to create communities within your population, in turn increasing employee engagement in your program.
However, not everyone wants to track every movement they make, or morsel they eat. So if you’re only offering a platform and aren’t seeing high engagement, it might be because your population needs a high-touch approach or more diversity in your wellness offerings.
A wellness provider will be able to monitor engagement, provide ongoing population assessments and update or add to your program to compliment your platform offerings as needed.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines biometric screening as the measurement of physical characteristics such as height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and aerobic fitness that can be taken at the worksite and used as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.
Biometric screenings can be a great tool if they’re used as part of a larger wellness or benefits strategy. Will your employees understand what to do with the information? Will they know where to go for support, information or help?
Screenings can be a way to obtain aggregate population health data which can be used to thoughtfully structure benefits plans, health interventions and health management programs. They can also be used as a benchmark by which these programs are measured.
However, biometric screenings performed outside the context of a larger health management strategy is not advised. Employees very rarely take action on the data provided from the screenings alone.
Many wellness vendors, and even some insurance plans, offer health coaching services - either with phone-based or in-person sessions. Health coaches are able to develop highly customized health and wellness behavior change strategies for their clients.
Many vendors specialize in one area of wellness, like nutrition. These types of services are useful, especially for smaller companies with small budgets. A wellness provider can assess your population to determine the topics most impactful to your population, source and hire quality speakers and design a communication strategy to ensure a high turnout.
Fitness Services and Programs
If fitness isn’t part of your wellness program, it should be. There are a variety of ways to add a fitness component to your program. If you have a fitness center, make sure it’s staffed. A staffed fitness can have up to 40% more engagement than an unstaffed fitness center.
If you don’t have a fitness center, you can still offer fitness services to your staff or tenants. Group Exercise services can be performed in a variety of spaces including conference rooms and outdoor plazas (weather permitting).
A wellness challenge can be a fun way to engage a diverse population with friendly competition. However, many employers remain stuck in the “get your steps in” mindset and want everyone to wear a fitness tracker and track their steps. And that works for some people. But the stats on fitness trackers tell a different story. Recent studies show fitness tracker use drops dramatically after the six-month mark.
There are many different ways to do a wellness challenge - the simpler the better. Use them as a way to create community and friendly rivalry. A well-designed wellness challenge will not be difficult to perform and will provide tools for employees to use after the challenge is over to help the employee continue to make healthy lifestyle changes.
A wellness provider will be able to look at the full scope of your benefits program and provide a challenge to enhance the program and perhaps engage people who wouldn’t normally engage in your benefits program and services.
HOW TO PROMOTE WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE
Communication. Communication. Communication.
One of the most discouraging survey answers to why someone didn’t participate in a wellness program or service is they didn’t know it existed. Granted, employees are bombarded by information daily. How does your information stand out?
A communication strategy is vital to the success of any company initiative, especially a wellness program. Use these key
Where do your employees go for company information? Not every employee will notice the same piece of communication so create a diverse mix of avenues to deliver your message.
- Company newsletter
- Elevator and building displays
- Distribution lists
- Event announcements
- Meeting announcements
- Social platforms like Slack, Workplace or Yammer
- Cross-promotion with on-site fitness center or other health and wellness vendors
- On-site cafe table tents
- Word of mouth
Write it Down
Map out your quarterly, monthly and weekly strategy. It will take some upfront effort but once your system is in place, it’s just a matter of filling it in with the right messages.
Who will be responsible for delivering the message? Make sure everyone responsible for communicating your program has access to your communication strategy, understands their role and is clear on the timeline.
Make sure your messages are aligned across all communication avenues. Are your messages getting lost in the sheer volume of other company communications? Check larger company calendars - there may be opportunities to cross-promote with other company initiatives.
“Brand” your Wellness Program
Does your wellness program have a specific look and feel that matches the goals of the program? Your employees should instantly recognize your wellness brand, increasing the likelihood they’ll engage with the message.
Once you have a brand, make sure to consistently use it for all program promotions.
Wellness programs can be a valuable benefit to your employees. With thoughtful research, careful planning and a well-crafted communication strategy, your program will have an excellent chance of success.
Interested in learning more? Here are a few blog posts you might be interested in: