Certain Factors Critical to Wellness Program Engagement

Integrating and simplifying benefits programs and the human touch enhances engagement in employee wellness programs, according to a survey of large employers.

Employers implement wellness programs, in part, to address health benefit costs and costs from lost productivity.

However, often there is a lack of engagement in wellness programs by employees. HealthAdvocate surveyed large employers to get a sense of best practices to drive and sustain employee engagement in health and well-being. Survey participants made it clear that fragmentation is a major challenge, creating administrative headaches for HR and confusion for employees. Further, integrating and simplifying benefits programs enhances both access and utilization. Finally, while technology plays an important and growing role in today’s benefits programs, the human touch is still critical for success.

When asked what approaches benefits leaders currently used to optimize employee engagement in health and well-being benefits, about one-quarter mentioned a unified integrated benefits management platform, while another 25% specifically said mobile applications and social media were starting to play a larger role than in previous years. The majority cited more conventional approaches including regular communications via newsletters and blogs (78%); events/meetings (67%); contributions to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) or health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) (65%); and incentives (54%). Incentives most commonly used to encourage engagement included HSA contributions (49%), reduced insurance premiums (44%) and cash/gifts (39%).

Employers that use multiple providers for health and well-being benefits cited several challenges. At the top of the list at 44% was “disjointed, confusing for employees.” Next, at 43%, was fragmentation of vendor/partner/internally developed tools, with several numbers to call. Another problem, said 40%, was the lack of utilization, and 35% felt technology issues with integrating systems was a challenge. Some organizations mitigate this by having one expert or one number to call to help navigate the various benefits from a multitude of vendors. HeatlhAdvocate says this expert would have to be educated on all of an employee’s options in order to effectively help them get the right help when they need it.

“By reducing the amount of effort required on the part of the employee to access programs and information, the more likely the employee is to engage in their health and take advantage of the programs available to them,” the survey report says.

Eight out of ten survey respondents confirmed that having some level of high-touch human support increases employee engagement with their benefits. A majority (78%) offer employees access to live support to help with health goals and benefits navigation.

HealthAdvocate’s report, “Driving Benefits Engagement: Strategies to Optimize Employee Health and Well-Being Programs,” is here.