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Partnering for Success: What to Look for in an Employee Health and Wellness Program Provider

December 22, 2010 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

Recently, our client Protective Life Corporation was the recipient of a 2010 Optimas Award from Workforce Management Magazine.Protective was recognized in the Partnership category for their work with Virgin HealthMiles to develop a wellness strategy that engages employees in improving their health and well-being.  This award got me thinking about partnerships and what makes a good relationship between an employer and an employee health and wellness provider

Here are some key factors we’ve learned from our experience to consider when developing a health and wellness program.

Identify specific challenges.  What are the challenges for your organization when it comes to employee health? What are the challenges for your employees? We often hear from clients that HR managers are tasked with motivating employees and spending too much time managing several incentives structures leading to sub-optimal program results.  On the flip side, employees often feel that that it’s not clear what is being asked of them and the incentives aren’t compelling.  Find a provider who can address your company’s specific needs.  If you’re managing a program with multiple incentives, you need a provider who integrates all of your incentives.  The bottom line is to find someone who can the whole experience easier for you and your employees and help you produce better results.

Motivate participation.  For an employee health program to really have an impact, employees need to participate over the long-term.  Find a solution where you can create a mix of motivational strategies to spur healthy, long-term behavior change. Not only can this be highly effective in getting your employees to participate in the programs you offer, but it can also have a significant impact on your organization Also, programs must appeal to and apply to everyone. While targeted programs intended to address specific conditions and diseases are beneficial and necessary in most cases, it’s crucial that employers take a preventative approach by providing an overarching program that engages and influences the vast majority of their populations who don’t fall into these categories.

Create an environment for success. In a recent survey, we asked employees about their priorities and to identify the top three attributes of a wellness program that are most critical for their long-term success. 65% of employees who responded said flexibility was key – they wanted programs available when, where and how they wanted.  61% of employees also looked for the opportunity to earn financial rewards and 48% valued initiatives that enabled them to set goals and track their personal progress. 

Make results measurable.  Recently, we surveyed employers and found most organizations would place more emphasis on employee health initiatives if they could better measure their impact.  Organizations won’t see quantifiable improvements in employee health without having measurement mechanisms in place.  Finding a health and wellness solution that can capture validated data around the healthy behavior changes your employees are making is the only way you and your employees can be assured that activity and health outcomes are shifting in the right direction.

Manage your investment. Optimize your investment. Look for programs that can integrate various wellness and incentives offerings so you can better understand both their individual effectiveness and the impact your overall strategy has on your population.  This allows you to actively manage your strategies and offerings to ensure you’re able to sustain long-term participation and healthy behavior change, demonstrate proof of the program’s impact, and help measure overall effectiveness of your strategy to support employee health and the health of your company’s bottom line.

In Protective Life’s case, they were looking for a way to give all employees opportunities to be active and earn rewards. They wanted to encourage not only the unhealthy to be healthy, but the healthy to stay healthy.  They partnered with Virgin HealthMiles and, among other initiatives, we provided participating employees with GoZone® pedometers to track their daily activity through an online portal.  Such intuitive yet comprehensive measurement capabilities and technology made it easy for Protective Life’s employees to view their progress towards improved health at a glance.  It was a great marriage of client and provider working together towards a common goal. 

As you consider a defining a new health and wellness program or adding to an existing one, I encourage you to consider the points above and find a solution that fits in to your organization.

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