Several months ago we discussed the value of health plan member engagement. A new study from the same organization provides support for investing in the health of employees and their dependents. The research provides the business case to show that health and well-being programs are good for employees as well as the bottom line. For example, the research suggests that an employer group with 10,000 employees could drive almost $3 million in annual new value by increasing engagement by 10% in key health activities among employees and dependents. The study also noted high value activities, such as improved emotional health and optimal medication use. This highlights the importance of engaging employees in a broad array of health and wellness initiatives.
The challenge that all employers seem to face is how to go about breaking down barriers to participation. Without participation, employers can never engage employees in their health, which makes it impossible to extract value from a program. As is typical in most solutions, the answer is multi-faceted and requires the coordination of multiple parties. First, employees can’t participate in something they are unaware of, and surprisingly, many employees have no idea of the wellness benefits their employer offers. A multi-pronged and ongoing communication strategy is key to resolving this challenge. Once an employer gets their current employees familiar with the program, they can make it sustainable by including an overview of the program as part of their employee onboarding process.
Second, programs that are not user-friendly will certainly fail. Creating a rich and custom user experience is only attainable by embracing the consumer technologies that are flocking to the market. These solutions, like activity and nutrition tracking apps, have tens of millions of users for a reason. By incorporating them into a program, employees can pick from a wide array of highly functional and easy-to-use technologies, all of which will make participation easier and seamless.
Lastly, employers need to offer multiple aspects within their program to attract employees to engage and stay engaged. This goes beyond just financial incentives, which will certainly motivate some individuals. This includes communicating how the employee benefits from being healthier and incorporating team elements for those that are motivated by social reasons. Each employee is unique so offering multiple “incentives” to engage will ensure there is something for everyone.