The recommendations are based on the findings of a five-year research project that focused on understanding the employer and employee perspectives on healthcare and health benefits.
Key recommendations from the research to support employee engagement and health improvement efforts include:
• Take into account a company’s culture when implementing workplace health and benefit programs. Have strategies in place that build trust – a big influence on employee participation.
• Include dependents and other family members in company communication efforts so they can support health improvement and behavior change efforts at home and in their daily lives.
• Offer “Benefits-at-a-Glance” resources that include information such as cost comparisons among plans, the actual cost of health services, and benefit/coverage changes that could have an impact on out-of-pocket costs.
• Use the results of clinical screening programs and campaigns such as Know Your Numbers as the trigger to get employees to consider making necessary lifestyle changes.
• Structure incentives as part of the benefit design to maximize the employer’s investment in these resources and to promote value to the employee.
• Provide information and resources on resiliency/stress management to help employees handle the extremes of a hectic work and home life.
"Employers have invested substantial resources to improve the health of their workforce by offering health benefits, workplace health programs and external health management resources," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. "Unfortunately, in spite of these investments, many employers experience low program participation and disappointing levels of employee understanding and engagement. We're working with employers to combat these problems and explore alternative approaches to benefit design and health improvement programs with the intent to motivate employees to be more responsible for their health."
The next phase of the research series will focus on addressing the significant challenges employers face in successfully communicating health benefits and health improvement programs. In 2012, MBGH will launch an Employer Communications Toolkit on Benefits Literacy and Consumer Engagement. The results will be used to build a best practices communications road map and toolkit for employers that includes templates, resources and employer best practices to help companies increase participation and engagement in their health management programs.
The research results from the 2011 study can be read in the white paper report, Identifying the Triggers and Barriers to Engaging Employees in their Health Benefits and Wellness Programs at http://www.mbgh.org.