Article: How to design an effective employee wellness strategy

A Brand Reachout InitiativeCorporate Wellness Programs

How to design an effective employee wellness strategy

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Engaging employees is no longer about periodic employee engagement activities.
How to design an effective employee wellness strategy

In a competitive talent marketplace, companies need to harness the best of their employee’s potential. This means caring for their wellbeing in a way that they not only bring their best selves to work, but to help overcome any productivity and efficiency derailers.  Good health is one of the key pillars that can help overcome problems like absenteeism and hampered output. It should, therefore, take on a renewed importance in the talent management agenda.

There are three layers at which an employee wellness strategy needs to be designed.  

  • Employee-centric: Wellness is a powerful employee engagement tool that exhibits care and concern for one’s people.

  • Business-centric: Improving productivity should be the focus of wellness plans. 

  • Healthcare-outcome centric: Reducing the healthcare costs is one important aspect. 

There are a number of elements to a holistic wellness program – from disease management, lifestyle management, preventive healthcare, etc. Companies need to look at active healthcare interventions as an integral part of the wellness program, to build a proactive wellness strategy which prioritizes the health concerns. It is time to shift from a reactive to preventive healthcare approach. 

How to execute a wellness strategy

There are many measures that help define effectiveness including 1) adoption by employees, 2) proper risk assessment and redressal, and 3) eventually making health an ongoing priority for employees. Wellness practitioners and HR must undertake a systematic approach from implementation to analysis of outcomes if they want to measure the success of their wellness program. 

Here are a few tips:

  1. Analyse the risk: Every company may have a distinct health-risk profile of its employees. For example, a company operating out of a densely polluted city may have a higher number of claims of infectious and respiratory diseases. Wellness professionals should, therefore, prepare their company-specific risk profile and analyze the impact on business. This means analyzing health claims and hospitalization requests, health risk assessment reports, and defining risk factors.  “Analysing healthcare data is a significant first step in a strategic wellness plan,” says Lavanya Pulak, Associate Director, Human Capital, United Health Group in a roundtable conversation with HR leaders.  

  2. Link outcomes with health insurance trends: The analysis of the risk factors weighted against costs and budget. HR practitioners should ask “Are wellness initiatives helping the company reduce the health insurance premium?” HR should regularly identify the top claim contributors while analyzing the underlying reasons for wellness-related leaves. 

  3. Broaden the spectrum of the wellness program: It is essential to measure the impact of wellness programs using employee engagement measures. Some parameters that HR and line managers should track include employee participation, employee satisfaction, etc. Active employee participation is critical to the success of any wellness program.

    The wellness calendar must be all-inclusive and not just focus on a particular employee segment; it must include high-risk programs as well as preventive programs where employees of all age groups can participate. 

  4. Communicate to employees: If participation from employees should be a proactive step, they must be first made aware of the needs and benefits of the programs. It is crucial to convey “What’s in it for me?” 

HR and line managers must actively and transparently communicate the purpose and agenda to employees.

Employee wellness programs are successful when they strike a balance between the “good” vs. “need.” A wellness strategy needs to not only to control healthcare costs; it should encourage engagement and promotion, enable productivity. At the same time, companies must keep track of industry trends to identify “good to have” elements. 

The success of a wellness program is possible with the right leadership support, the partnership with HR teams and stakeholders such as business managers and most importantly employees themselves. Ultimately, wellness should become an ingrained way of life at work and beyond work. Only then can companies harness the real potential of their employees on a sustained basis.

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Topics: Corporate Wellness Programs, #Wellness Wins

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