Wellness efforts are evolving over the years to include more activities beyond just traditional health screenings and flu shot programs. Employers have expanded their viewpoint on measuring just dollar-to-dollar wellness ROI and are looking to build programs with long-term value. This is requiring companies to look for new and innovative ways to engage employees about their health.
For example, the 2015 Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans found the companies are promoting a wider range of programs than in the past to support employee health and well-being, including:
- Wearable tech to track physical activity
- Health engagement mobile apps
- Sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment
- Resiliency/Stress management
- Financial well-being
From the list above, it’s clear that some employers are interested in developing strategies that look at social determinants of health such as a person’s emotional, financial and community well-being. The pressures of today that some people experience requires providing more help to them to stay healthy by addressing employees’ health needs from a holistic standpoint.
As a Special Report in the June issue of CFO reported the companies that stay on the cutting edge of wellness see the results. According to Brian Marcotte, CEO of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) employers who offer progressive health and wellness benefits and services tend to have a 2.5 percentage point advantage over others in terms of healthcare cost management. As the article notes, this means that if the trend in health cost increases is 4.5%, a progressive company will be about 2%.
Building that long-term value for employees and the company requires a commitment to engaging the stakeholders to put broad resources in place that address a number of health and financial challenges and to trigger and maintain the use of these resources.
One method some employers are offering is health and lifestyle coaching. Coaching can help employees manage chronic diseases, weight-management, and stress-reduction efforts. They are incorporating the use of technology, chat coaching, and video coaching into the mix to reach employees when and how is best for them. All in an effort to help employees identify some root causes for their unhealthy behaviors and empower them to change their behaviors and lower their health risks.
Some employers are extending their coaching activities to include health care engagement services that further provide help to employees with benefit questions, health care issues, health improvement coaching or navigating the health care system. This type of intermediary service offers help to employees at work and with personal matters. Looking to wellness initiatives that extend into employees’ homes and communities will provide the personalized engagement strategies needed to create and sustain a healthy workforce for years to come.