Crossing the Wellness Program ‘Engagement Chasm’

Engagement in Wellness

Between education and experience lies an “engagement chasm” in wellness programs, but there are incentives for both employers and employees who continue the fight for employee wellness.

According to a recent survey by Gallup and presentation by Dan Newton of Wellpoint, a subsidiary of Anthem, only 26% of employees participated in health and wellness programs, even as 68% of those participating were doing so though employer-sponsored programs.

Moving from ‘What’ to ‘How’

Newton, staff vice president, product/solutions development and behavioral economics at WellPoint, believes that with wellness engagement, “the issue isn’t what anymore, it’s how.”

So how are employers promoting wellness and boosting engagement? How will employers need to bridge this ‘engagement chasm’? It’s simple, give the employees what they need in a program.

Consumers, according to the AON Consumer Health Mindset Report, want to be empowered to move from passive patient to confident consumer. Employers can provide this by providing the following in their wellness program:

  • Design with Intent: Make it easy for the employee to register for and use the service
  • Reduce Unnecessary Expense: Throwing a one-size-fits-all option will waste an employee’s time and money. Make the offering personal for a higher level of engagement.
  • Move the Employees: The wellness program has to be engaging for employees to be engaged.
  • Make it Meaningful: Give employees a good reason to commit, and they are more likely to do so. In 2014, employers with a strong workplace health culture were more likely to exercise 3 times per week (62% vs 49%) and get a physical (72% vs 64%) than they would do in a company with a weak health culture.

Consumers want a facilitator and a champion to engage them in their health goals.

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Promoting Wellness to Employees

How can employers influence employees?

  • Communication
    • Are people aware?
    • Are they reminded?
    • Do you know their preferences?
  • Ease of Use
    • Simplicity…”one click rule”
    • Process… understand the decision-making steps
  • Motivation
    • Use languages to counter act bias
  • The Power of Groups
    • Peer support
    • Social influence
  • Culture Matters
    • Policies
    • Message and Behavior Alignment….”do what you say”

All in all, a successful wellness program is one from which both employers and employees can benefit. Employers in reduced costs ($30 per employee per month according to a RAND study), increased productivity, and better engagement; employees in better health, resulting in lower costs.

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