Category: Rewards and Incentives

Gift boxesThe holiday season is here and with it comes employee rewards season.  Rewarding employees with bonuses for their work performance or hosting a holiday party are fairly common rewards this time of year.  Rewarding employees for healthy behavior is also growing in popularity.

Through wellness programs, employers can provide financial and non-financial rewards to employees who engage in healthy activity.

Employee wellness is not one-size-fits-all and it’s important to remember that rewards are not one-size-fits-all either.  When tailoring a customized wellness program for employees, it is essential to find rewards that best drive engagement for the respective employee population.

Employers sometimes think that cash is the only reward that really motivates employees  — not true!  In fact, “According to a study by Site International Foundation and the Incentive Travel Council, 96% of employees say they are motivated by travel incentives.”

Does your wellness program give employees an opportunity to earn additional vacation days?  An extra vacation day could be just the type of reward your employees would appreciate this holiday season.

For more on rewarding employees with vacation days: http://www.businessinsider.com/paid-vacation-motivates-better-than-cash-2013-11


Category: Wellness

Winter weather is in full force at the Wellable office in Boston.  It’s cold, windy, and dark by 5pm.

What does winter weather mean for health and wellness?

According to a Gallup poll, winter weather means less exercise and worse eating habits for many Americans.  “The percentage of Americans who exercise and consume fruits and vegetables frequently falls about five percentage points every December from the highs Gallup finds each July and August.”

gallup poll v2

There are a number of reasons why exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease – outdoor exercise difficulty and limited access to healthy produce during the winter months are two reasons.

At Wellable, we view the winter months as an opportunity for employers.  As winter approaches it becomes even more important for employers to step-up their wellness game and find creative ways to engage employees.

Incentives and competitions are two approaches for fighting the winter wellness woes.  Providing financial or non-financial incentives to employees who engage in healthy activity provides some additional encouragement.  Making wellness fun with a team-based employee competition can boost wellness activity and employee morale.

According to Gallop’s poll, December is the least healthy month for Americans – how about starting your employee wellness New Year’s resolution one month early?

For more information on Gallup’s wellness poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/151424/health-habits-continue-steep-winter-decline.aspx


Category: Wellable News

NFP-Thorbahn-Logo-extra-clearspace-01Last week Wellable and NFP Thorbahn kicked off the Mobile EMPOWERment Challenge.  The Mobile EMPOWERment Challenge is an individual and team based mobile health and wellness competition for NFP Thorbahn employees, powered by Wellable’s technology.

NFP Thorbahn is a MA based employee benefits consulting firm.   NFP Thorbahn has created Empower, as wellness consulting and implementation service that is offered to clients and also used internally to promote NFP employee health and wellness.

We are excited to add innovative mobile wellness technology to NFP’s internal employee Empower wellness program and look forwarded to sharing more highlights over the coming weeks.


Category: Wellable News

Cole Boskey of Wellable sat down for a television interview with Boston Neighborhood Network News to discuss Wellable, health and wellness mobile apps, and Wellable’s recent partnership announcement with the Clinton Foundation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUJm5MD9i1o


Category: Wellness

According to a recent study, “if you are thinking of quitting smoking, it is probably Monday.”  Researchers looked at Google search data from 2008 to 2012 and found that quitting smoking was searched more on Monday than any other day.

It’s unclear why exactly these queries spiked on Mondays, but the researchers believe the results indicate important human behavior trends that can be used to optimize smoking cessation programs.

What if Google’s search data was used to better understand the current state of the wellness industry?

To begin, I wanted to see a simple snapshot of how individuals across the United States are searching employee wellness on Google.  Is wellness search trending in particular regions or states?

Using Google’s trend analysis tool I looked at data from four employee wellness related keyword searches: Employee Wellness, Corporate Wellness, Wellness Programs, and Employee Health.  These keyword searches represent a best guess at what someone might use to search for or about employee wellness programs.

The Google trend analysis tool normalizes data so that data from each state can be compared equitably.  For example, states that are generating the highest absolute search volume (often because of large resident populations) will not necessary be ranked highest.

Using the results of the four employee wellness related queries I created the below Wellness Power Ranking table.  The state’s power ranking is based on an average of the state’s rankings in each of the four keyword queries.

Rank State
1 Wisconsin
2 Indiana
2 Ohio
4 Minnesota
5 North Carolina
6 Utah
7 Colorado
8 Arizona
8 Iowa
10 Missouri
10 Nebraska
A few observations:
Wisconsin

Something is going on in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is ranked #1 in two of the four keyword queries and ranked #3 in a third.  Is something happening on the local or state political level that is encouraging wellness googling?

The Coasts
Where are the coastal states?  East coast (except for North Carolina) and west coast states were noticeably missing.  Is employee wellness searching (on a relative basis) lower on the coasts because programs have already been established, and individuals are more familiar with wellness resources and googling less frequently?

Swing States
The 2012 presidential swing states are noticeably present in the power rankings.  Five of the nine swing states made the list: Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa — any correlation or purely coincidence?

This analysis offers far more questions than it provides answers, but it’s interesting glimpse into human behavior in the wellness industry and possibly provides some unique insight into current wellness industry trends.

For more on the smoking search study: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/quit-smoking-its-probably-monday/?_r=0

For more on Google’s search trend analysis tool: https://www.google.com/trends/


Category: Wellable News

Last week we shared exciting news —  Wellable is joining the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative to promote wellness.

We were honored to receive many great press mentions and shout-outs from our Wellable fans.  We couldn’t be more excited!  Here are some of the tweets we received:


Category: Wellable News

Earlier this year we shared our vision for using mobile health and wellness technology to make Americas healthier in our Blue Cross Blue Shield video.   Today, Wellable is excited to announce the next step in our commitment to fulfill this vision and improve the health and wellness of Americans.

The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) and Wellable are joining to promote wellness.

Through this partnership, Wellable will provide key employers and community organizations access to Wellable’s technology in an effort to improve employee and community wellness and reduce the proliferation of preventable disease.

CHMI and Wellable are launching a two-phased wellness deployment strategy that will initially target organizations located in CHMI’s four Community Health Transformation sites (Coachella Valley, Central Arkansas, Northeast Florida, and Greater Houston).

The second phase of Wellable’s action plan will extend into CHMI’s network of more than 45 strategic partners, which range from small employers to Fortune 100 companies, to provide Wellable’s wellness solution to their employees.

We believe this partnership highlights the synergies between mobile health technology, a large global non-profit, and local and national employers and will be a call to action for other to join our mission to promote health and wellness across America.

Please see our Wellable News announcement for further details on our exciting partnership.


Category: Corporate Wellness

GmailOn May 29th, Google announced a small but significant change to Gmail.  Google introduced a newly formatted inbox that automatically sorts emails into separate tabs.  According to Google, the new Gmail “is organized in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when.”  This new feature is great for users, but creates new challenges for businesses vying for your attention.

To the chagrin of many online marketers, this new, “smarter” inbox essentially separates emails that are important, from emails that are less important.  If you are a Gmail user, you are familiar with three of the categories or tabs: Primary, Social, and Promotions.

Like Gmail’s new inbox, corporate wellness can also be divided.  Wellness programs exist in many corporations across America, but companies approach wellness very differently.  What happens if we apply Gmail’s new auto-categorization feature to the current state of corporate wellness?  It would probably look something like this…

Promotions Wellness

Wellness is offered but it is not taken seriously.  Employees are presented with wellness resources, but the resources are limited and receive low employee engagement and participation.  Similar to Promotions emails, wellness is not an important part of the employee culture and tends to be deleted.

Social Wellness

The company dabbles in wellness, but only when it’s fun and convenient.  For example, a few of the younger employees organize a company softball team and play a game once a week.  The turnout for the post-game happy hour is often higher than the game’s.  Like Social emails, wellness gets some attention by a subset of the employees, but other employees could care less.

Primary Wellness

Wellness is core to the company’s culture.  The company invests in their employees’ health and wellbeing through a high-engagement wellness solution.  Wellness is not a once a week event, wellness is encouraged daily and takes a number of different forms.  Wellness includes healthy snacks in the kitchen, a Health Risk Assessment, and offering a wellness program that has customized and personalized wellness action plans for each employee.  Wellness is not a nice to have; it’s a need to have.  Like the primary tab, wellness is a must read.

How would Gmail categorize your company’s wellness program?

For more on Gmail’s new inbox: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-new-inbox-that-puts-you-back-in.html


Category: Wellness

congressThis is not a political blog post.  This is a post about real-world problems that have readily available solutions.

A particularly nasty partisan political disease has infected the American government.  Regardless of one’s political beliefs, there is widespread agreement that the current budget crisis is solvable and politicians must work together to find the cure.  A solution can be achieved simply, or maybe not so simply, by agreeing on which path to take.

Reducing the proliferation and costs related to chronic diseases may not be an easy problem to solve, but like the budget crisis, solutions to this problem exist.  According to the CDC, 75% of America’s healthcare dollars are spent on the treatment of chronic diseases.  “Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.”  As the CDC notes, chronic diseases are among the most preventable health problems, in other words, this is a problem we can solve.

Wellable believes that employee wellness programs are essential to solving the chronic disease problem.  The average American spends two thirds of his or her waking life at work and employers can use this time-intensive relationship to help promote healthy employee behavior.  The workplace can be used to facilitate team-based health competitions or converted into a lunchtime yoga studio.  Effective corporate wellness programs lead to healthy behaviors, which can decrease the likelihood of chronic diseases and their associated healthcare costs.  If we are serious about solving the chronic disease problem, than employee wellness can no longer be a nice-to-have, it needs to be a must-have for all American companies.

There are many political and health problems that can’t be solved, some because of lack of resources, others because of limited knowledge.  The budget and chronic disease crises are two problems that can be solved, and for this reason alone, Team Wellable is optimistic.

For more on the CDC and chronic disease: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm


Category: Corporate Wellness

Company Wellness DayBefore Wellable, I worked for a large company of over 30,000 employees.  One of the best days of the year was not a day at work, but our community service day.  All 30,000 employees and summer interns were required to commit one day a year to community service.  Employees could choose from a long list of community service options spread across the summer months.  All service events were coordinated and vetted by our employer.  Options ranged from picking up trash along the Hudson River to putting a fresh coat of paint on a local elementary school’s classroom walls.  The commitment was a full day’s work, and if we were lucky we didn’t have to return the office to put in a few hours at night (though we usually weren’t lucky).

I looked forward to our community service day for two reasons – it was an opportunity to help others and it was a chance to bond with my team outside of work.  Our team bonded while struggling to weed a tomato farm in 90-degree heat and built camaraderie while organizing an elementary school’s summer carnival.  We returned from each service day mentally refreshed and ready to tackle challenges at work.

I imagine that many companies have similar community service programs, but how many firms have a required wellness day?  Companies will encourage wellness events like the JPM Corporate Challenge or team softball, but few firms require that all employees participate in one team-based wellness event each year.  A wellness day is a great way to build a culture of health and wellness and reinvest in employees.   Like a community service day, a wellness day is an opportunity for employees to interact across divisions, build new relationships, and strengthen friendships outside of the normal work setting.

Even if a company can’t commit to a required wellness day, there are still ways to use to wellness to strengthen the company culture.  A corporate wellness program should be used as an opportunity to foster teamwork and build employee camaraderie.  When designing wellness programs, Wellable often structures small team-based wellness competitions.  Team competitions drive higher employee engagement and more effective wellness behavior change, while also providing an opportunity for cross division interaction.