Employees are satisfied with wellness programs, but more personalization is needed

Satisfaction with health and well-being programs is high, but more personalization is needed, according to recent research from Welltok and the National Business Group on Health. The study, Whispers from the Water Cooler: What Motivates Employees to Improve Their Health and Well-Being, found that 81 percent of employees saw a positive impact on their physical well-being and more than 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed that including family in such programs would likely increase their participation. For those that did not participate, 37 percent did not find them personally relevant and 20 percent did not know they were available, an indication that greater personalization and awareness is needed to drive employee engagement.

“The majority of companies providing health and well-being programs can maximize the value of what they are offering, regardless of their current levels of employee participation,” said Michelle Snyder, chief marketing officer for Welltok. “Clearly, not every group is motivated by the same drivers and there is room for all to grow. The findings confirm that employers must connect individuals with the right topics and content, as well as create the right support networks if they want to generate the highest possible return on investment.”

The study found that there is a role for employers in improving health and well-being, but participation still lags. When asked about the role employers should play in employee health, getting cost effective care and providing emotional/personal support resources ranked highest among respondents (77 percent and 74 percent agreed or strongly agreed, respectively). The majority of employees also see a role for their employer in helping them to stop unhealthy behaviors or managing financial issues (53 percent agreed or strongly agreed). Yet participation in employer-sponsored programs remains low. For example, emotional health and financial security programs had the lowest levels of participation—24 percent and 37 percent. Even physical health programs have room for improvement—only 48 percent of employees had participated in a program to help them improve their physical health.

The survey also found the following:

• Rewards work for all employees, regardless of income and age. The majority (91 percent) would engage in healthier behaviors if they were rewarded, including those who had an income of at least $200,000 (78 percent).

• Colleagues and direct managers are top motivators. Eighty-six percent ranked their colleagues as one of the top motivators to improving their overall health and well-being at work, followed closely by their direct manager (57 percent).

• Younger and lower income employees are interested in financial wellness programs. More than half (63 percent) of the households making less than $50,000 wanted employers to play a role in their financial well-being, while that figure dropped to less than half (44 percent) for those making $200,000 or more.

“It is clear that employees can benefit from employer-sponsored programs aimed at improving physical, financial and emotional health, along with decision-support resources to maximize their health care experience,” said Brian Marcotte, CEO and president of the National Business Group on Health. “The ‘one size fits all’ approach to communications, however, has proven ineffective in engaging employees and engagement is now the number one challenge facing employers. Personalization is the key and there are emerging engagement platforms and point solutions that show great promise in driving and sustaining engagement by leveraging data, predictive analytics and technology to reach people with personalized, timely, relevant and actionable information.”

SOURCE: NBGH press release, July 21, 2016.

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