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2019 Health & Wellbeing Trends to Offset Wellness Fatigue

Is Your Company at Risk for Wellness Fatigue?

At the risk of sounding stereotypical, it’s that time of year of again. The time of year when discussions focus on trends, forecasts and “crystal ball” visions of the next big thing in employee wellness. It can be a daunting time, as employers are searching for programs that will gain traction, have impact and ultimately change behaviors. I’ve even coined a term, when working with my clients, to summarize this year-end status, it’s called "wellness fatigue." Set a resolution to avoid falling into the trap of wellness fatigue by focusing on the strategies that will have the most impact in the long term.

Workforce health and wellness programs have been around long enough to know that around this time of year, some HR and leadership teams have become downright weary in the quest for something new, something purposeful and something that works. If this describes the climate in your workplace, read on for solutions and trends that are current, impactful and just what the doctor ordered to overcome wellness fatigue.

Cultural, Holistic Wellbeing Programs That Are Tied to the Bottom Line

Historically, wellness programs were thought to be a “nice” extra, a feel-good benefit that some employees valued, but didn’t reach those who might need the stress management seminar or the education about high cholesterol or diabetes gleaned from a biometric assessment event. In addition, HR departments have been challenged to "prove” return on investment (ROI) to obtain budget investment. So, what’s changed?

  • Data and Analytics

    The tidal wave of information available via data and analytics advancements allows for improved metrics and measurement tools linking productivity and performance to employee engagement and wellbeing. Wellbeing programs can uniquely engage employees at many levels which directly impacts core business drivers. The Gallup organization’s most recent engagement report notes that “highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.”

  • Innovative Research

    New research, such as the 2018 Yale University/Optum study, that shows share price growth and contributions to business performance, tied to Health and Wellbeing initiatives. This supports earlier studies showing improved stock performance in companies who invested in comprehensive wellbeing plans.

    With almost 70% of U.S. employers offering some type of wellness program, the question isn’t about if your company has one – but how effective it is.

  • Recognizing What’s at Stake

    Increased recognition of the cost of poor health on the company bottom line, as well as the reality that without intervention, productivity will continue to suffer. The Integrated Benefits Institute recently reported a $530 billion-dollar loss in productivity due to poor employee health.

    “There’s not a CEO or CFO that can placidly accept their business expending the equivalent of almost two-thirds of their healthcare dollars on lost productivity. Illness costs this country hundreds of billions of dollars, and we can no longer afford to ignore the health of our workforce,” says Thomas Parry, PhD, IBI President.

3 Resolutions for Wellbeing Success in 2019

It starts with hyper-personalization to engage employees in an overall employee experience.

Employers are seeking to motivate and engage across a multi-generational and diverse workplace, and the wellbeing program is an excellent vehicle to achieve results. As you think about your 2019 initiatives, take into consideration the following three trends many employers have already incorporated or are planning to:

  1. Think Outside the Wellness Box

    There is so much more to wellness than health fairs and biometrics. Survey your employees at least annually, to determine what they want, what they value and how they would like to engage. In recent years, we’ve seen more employers “hyper-personalizing” everything from incentives, to consumer-directed-benefits (CDBs), to flexible work arrangements. This trend results from employees that are also consumers with access to customizing most aspects of their life, and your wellbeing program can benefit from this type of customization as well. Personalized point programs, for example, allow employees to engage in activities that are relevant to their personal goals, not a generic one size fits all. Rewards such as additional funds in a health savings account, student loan repayment assistance, financial counseling, or even health coaching and wellness days off represent personal and impactful motivators to engage employees.

  2. Embrace Remote Resources

    Telemedicine, online mental and behavioral health providers, health trackers and wearables are all exploding technologies that represent connected consumers, who are also your connected employees. Your workforce is changing dramatically and the opportunity to engage employees via strategic incentives is now a reality. Some Telemedicine vendors, according to a recent NBGH survey, are reporting employee participation rates nearing 50-60%, a number which would have been unheard of a few years ago. Not only does Telemedicine allow your employees to save money and time, incentives to use the program or other e-health services encourage employees to get comfortable with the service. For geographically diverse populations, or for those with remote workers, access to online health technologies enhances personal solutions while bringing together your diverse group of employees.

  3. Say Goodbye to the Segmented Approach

    Develop strategies that enhance the overall employee experience by merging previously separate committees or initiatives with resources from the insurance carrier, especially data analytics surrounding specific cost drivers. Total employee wellbeing is multi-faceted and includes aspects of financial, emotional, occupational, physical and social health. Merging health and safety or employee engagement committees with wellbeing can make certain that cultural initiatives align and support wellbeing, including joint benchmarks and goals. Shared resources, talent and budget can create a total wellbeing program that solidifies both brand and the cultural shifts necessary for long-term success and measurable results.

These significant shifts seen across industries in current wellness trends lead to a total health & wellbeing approach which can result in improved health and greater employee engagement, positively impacting performance and productivity. Connect with your local OneDigital representative to learn how to develop a strategy to implement a thoughtful health & wellbeing solution that aligns with your business goals and is suited for your population.