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Put People Back in Your Wellbeing Strategy, and You’ll See Results

October 3, 2019 / Corporate Wellness

Written By: Steven Parker

If your employee wellbeing program isn’t producing the results you hoped for, there might be something crucial missing from your wellbeing strategy.

I’m a former benefits and human resources executive, and for the last 10 years, I’ve enjoyed a “second” career in HR technology. You could say that I’m an HR geek through and through. Early in my career, though, things were different …

In my twenties, I was lucky enough to lead special operations soldiers on missions in Albania and Zaire, among other places. This is how I learned about the power of the human spirit. I watched teams of soldiers from different backgrounds come together around a common goal to perform at the highest levels. I saw firsthand how repressed communities could rise up and band together to accomplish amazing things.

So, when I left the Army, I took the obvious next step. I joined the HR community. Maybe that’s not an obvious move, but I was excited to help others live their best lives and make a positive impact on their organizations. I saw the potential that HR and benefits teams have to build a great work environment that attracts and retains top talent — and I wanted to help people feel and perform at their best.

Put People Back in Your Wellbeing Strategy

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from working in HR, it’s that helping people improve their health and wellbeing is the most valuable thing we can do to support our employees’ success in work and in life. Imagine how much more we could accomplish if every employee were less stressed and 5-10% more productive? With 60% of Americans dealing with a chronic, often preventable, illness, poor health and wellbeing are undoubtedly roadblocks to being our best selves, not just as individuals, but as companies and as a society.

This is why the health and wellness industry exists and continues to grow year after year. More businesses are seeing the value of supporting their employees and helping them live better, healthier lives. But the health and wellness industry has experienced some failures too. Many organizations have failed to realize lower healthcare costs or higher employee productivity as a result of the investments they have made with their wellness vendors. And with the influx of products, promises and options on the market, employees are more confused than ever about their healthcare and wellbeing options.

There’s one clear reason that some wellbeing programs aren’t delivering the results they promised. They’ve taken people out of the picture.

For your employee health and wellbeing strategy to succeed, engaging and personalized technology isn’t enough. For the last 10 years, I’ve been hearing about how technology is going to make people obsolete. That’s scary — and in my opinion, it’s never going to happen (although I can’t wait for The Matrix 4 to come out).

People are complex and they operate in a constantly changing environment. Sometimes on our journey to better health, technology isn’t enough to help us navigate this complexity and adapt to these changes. We may need support and guidance from a coach or expert. To be effective, HR technology needs to be fueled by people who care and who truly want to change lives for good.

Successful Employee Wellbeing Programs Produce Results That Matter

That’s one reason why I came to Virgin Pulse. Many technology companies in the health and wellbeing space don’t want to provide the services that are needed to drive real change. That’s the dirty secret of the software industry — software companies want to keep margins high and the only way to do that is to avoid low margin, human-centered services. Now I’m proud to be a part of a team that puts people before margins. Virgin Pulse is combining the power of social connections with the best of behavioral science to create innovative solutions that zero in on what people want and need to make meaningful lifestyle changes that improve their health and wellbeing.

And this wellbeing strategy produces the type of results that I care about. Sixty-nine percent of Virgin Pulse members use the platform 21 or more days each month. This means that our members aren’t just using HR technology and services because they have to or just to grab an incentive. They’re using it because they see real results. They’re learning new behaviors and creating better habits, and they’re sticking with it.

Ultimately, most of us don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I want to be unhealthy today.” Sometimes, we just don’t know what healthy looks like. But with the expert guidance, a little encouragement and the right incentives, we can keep taking small steps toward our goals.

So why did I come to Virgin Pulse? Because I want to be a part of a community that cares about people and puts them first. Because, when we put our people at the center, we can build health and wellbeing programs that produce amazing results.


About The Author

Steven Parker is a world traveler, HR geek and passionate software executive whose mission is to empower companies and their people.

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