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10 Best Practices for Employers Who Are Starting Out, or Starting Over, With Wellness and Wellbeing at Work (Full Blog)


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Healthy workers are three times more productive than their less healthy peers. Meanwhile, individuals identified as high risk are three times more costly than individuals with low health risks. Based on these facts, most companies can easily appreciate the value of successfully implementing a wellbeing improvement program for their population. But there’s a catch. That one important word. “Successfully.”

Many companies have tried and failed. If your organization is embarking on a wellbeing journey for the first time, or if you are starting over and want to get it right this time, the following list is for you.

1-Prioritize privacy. Clearly state your objectives. One simple question will set the tone for your success, or lack thereof, when it comes to wellbeing improvement. Here it is. Why?

Why are you interested in wellness and wellbeing in the first place? What is your main objective, the driving force behind your decision to act? Your answer to this question is required before you can answer other key questions such as:

Who is the program being designed for?
Healthy employees? Those with health risks? Spouses?

Which health issues will you address?
Common health risks + chronic conditions? 

How will you know if you're successful?
ROI? Higher engagement? Increased Productivity?

2-Place a representative onsite during key times Be strategic. Are you asking decisions and planning based on data?  Are you examining past claims and looking at the risk profile of your organization? Are you creating a three-year strategic plan for your wellbeing initiatives? Too many companies fly blind when it comes to wellness and wellbeing. In a recent survey by CHC Wellbeing and WELCOA, we saw that less than half of employers have a multi-year plan in place for their efforts. If your goal is to make a major impact on the health of your workforce, you need to set a long-term plan to get there. Plain and simple.
3-Make it convenient Create a supportive workplace culture. We all understand the importance of a supportive workplace culture, but this is still a difficult thing to achieve. Many employers struggle to gain meaningful senior leadership sponsorship of their wellness/wellbeing efforts. Others fail to build a healthy foundation for their culture that will support the growth and vibrance of healthy behaviors at work.
4-Speak to the spouse Include the spouses. Too many programs focus only on employees and don’t involve spouses. This is short sighted. Families make healthy, or unhealthy, choices together. Engaging spouses alongside employees makes it much more likely that you will drive sustained engagement and see healthy returns. If you are a company with a male-dominated workforce, this is especially true. It’s been well-documented that women are the decision makers when it comes to health and wellness in the home. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to add spouses to your wellness/wellbeing efforts. But it pays big dividends.
5-Make technology simple to use Properly mix the motivation. Incentives are important to driving sustained engagement and healthy outcomes. Making sure you have the right rewards strategy in place to incentivize the right mix of behaviors throughout the year is important. Equally as important to a smartly designed incentive program is ensuring you are applying intrinsic rewards strategies including consistent “nudges”, peer pressure and building new “norms” for your workplace. Incremental changes and small steps are key.
6-Manage your expectations in the first year Offer holistic support. Supporting each individual’s total wellbeing is required. Gone are the days when physical wellness was sufficient. You must offer a combination of tools and programs that address physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing. You need a combination of educational and self-help tools, organized activities and individual follow up from trained health coaches. As mentioned earlier, proper incentives and a supportive environment are needed as well.
7-Start with the basics Personalize the experience. It is critically important to give individuals more control over their wellbeing journey. You must meet them where they are and offer personalized pathways based on their:
  • Preferences
  • Goals
  • Health Assessment
  • Biometrics
  • Claims
If you aren’t able to create unique experiences for individuals based on their specific circumstances, your ability to engage them will be severely limited.
8-Develop layers of wellness leadership Make a long-term commitment. Wellbeing is a marathon, not a sprint. Many programs have failed to gain traction because unrealistic expectations were placed on them in the short term. Be leery of anyone who promises an immediate ROI on wellness or wellbeing investments. In our experience, it takes 3-5 years to see the real value of your efforts in this arena. But the long-term gains are more than worth the wait for those who can be patient with the process.
9-Create a celebrity Measure what matters. Going back to your “why” will be helpful as you determine how to measure the success of your wellbeing efforts. Are you most interested in migrating employees to a healthier risk profile, reducing your overall healthcare costs or driving improved workforce engagement? As you design your program, make sure you set specific, attainable goals AND effective strategies for measuring success. Gain agreement with your vendor partner on what success looks like and how it will be reported back to you. And make sure your leadership team is on board with the change you intend to create and how you will prove it.
10-Don’t avoid the unions Find a trusted partner. You have no use for an “out of the box” or “off the shelf” wellbeing solution. If your service provider isn’t interested in working with you to develop a customized strategy that fits your population, you should start looking for someone who will be a true partner. There are no cookie cutter approaches or shortcuts to effective wellness and wellbeing programs. Don’t be told otherwise.
There’s nothing easy about wellbeing. No silver bullets or quick fixes. But if you take a strategic, long-term approach with a trusted partner who is aligned with your vision and can offer the right set of tools, success will find you. These best practices are just the start. If you’d like a strategic assessment of your population’s needs and your current wellbeing strategies, contact CHC Wellbeing today and get connected with a wellbeing specialist.

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