Measuring the Impact of a Well-Being Program: U-Haul’s Story

U-Haul shared how it uses data and employee feedback to continually improve its health and well-being program and move up the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America list.

Moving equipment and storage company U-Haul has used information from its employees—including data on how they’re using their benefits and feedback on what they say they need—to work to improve its health and well-being program.

At one of the sessions held during the Business Group on Health’s 2021 Annual Conference, “From Crisis to Opportunity,” Penny Moore, chief commercial officer of Springbuk, a health data analytics solutions provider, said U-Haul was named No. 15 on its 2020 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America list as a result of its effort.

Jessica Lopez, chief of staff at U-Haul, said the company offers its Healthier You program to its 32,000 team members across America. The program offers health, mindset, nutrition, fitness and financial education. Components of the program include:

  • Education on healthier lifestyles and time management;
  • The “You Matter” employee assistance program (EAP);
  • A nurse on call 24/7; and
  • The “U-Haul Kids” program, which provides 24/7 virtual consultation and free medications for children 12 and younger.

Regional health and benefits fairs also provide free wellness checks to employees. Lopez said U-Haul even refreshed the café at its headquarters in Phoenix to provide meals under 500 calories that cost less than $5 and refreshed vending machine selections across all locations to provide healthy options.

U-Haul uses Springbuk’s health intelligence platform, which provides actionable insights for employers, identifies and predicts when health care interventions are needed, and measures the impact of those interventions.

Lopez said her first order of business when U-Haul decided to offer the program was to hire a wellness program manager, and, within three weeks of hiring Monique Wantland, a healthier living presentation was given to upper management.

“I’m a firm believer that wellness programs need leadership buy-in,” Lopez said. “We started our wellness program a little over five years ago, and I’m confident we were able to make a difference so quicky because of the CEO’s buy-in.”

Wantland said the company started by looking at the benefits it already offered and what features of those benefits it was not using. “For example, when we found out that access to a wellness coordinator is part of our medical plan, we starting using them to create webinars and events,” she said.

Wantland said U-Haul is building an on-site medical clinic and gym at its headquarters. Claims data showed that many employees were seeking occupational/physical therapy, so the company will be providing a physical therapist at the on-site medical clinic. “It’s important to offer what people need, not what we think they need,” she said.

Lopez said U-Haul constantly reviews data and uses employee feedback to enhance its program. “Perception is reality. We want out team members to know our wellness program is not a policy but we offer it because we truly care,” she said. “It’s important to match the data with the feedback from employees.”

As an example of using data to make a difference, Lopez said she was shocked to learn how many employees and family members were just going to the emergency room for routine care. “We realized we needed to communicate to team members how to be a smart consumer. In 2019, we did a campaign where we outlined the costs of telemedicine, urgent care, primary care physicians and emergency rooms, as well as the reasons to go to each provider type,” she said. “Some team members didn’t realize telemedicine visits were available. Some didn’t realize the added costs to them and the company of going to the ER. We heard from many team members how grateful they are for that campaign and the know-how we provided.”

Lopez added that the campaign started with a video of the CEO asking employees for help in controlling health care costs by being smart consumers so they could keep the good benefits they have. “He pointed out that they could not only save money, but time, by not wasting five hours of their day at the ER,” she said.

U-Haul followed up with continuous reminders about being a smart consumer and rewarded employees with incentives.

The video of the CEO and additional education about being a smart health care consumer are now part of the U-Haul University training for employees. The company provides a contribution to the employee’s health savings account (HSA) as an incentive for taking the course, Wantland said. “It wasn’t that team members didn’t want to choose other options, it was that they didn’t know about their choices,” she said.

Claims data also informs what is included in U-Haul’s Healthier You newsletters. “We use the data to see what employees need and it helps drive newsletter topics,” Wantland said. “There are no more general topics in our educational materials. We address gaps in care, the programs available at U-Haul to help employees with those issues and what community programs are available to help.”

Wantland said it is important to set goals. “One of our goals was medication management,” she said. “The data provided by Springbuk showed gaps in care for medication management, so we offer a resource to help employees find out where they can get maintenance medication cheaper, and it can be set up to send reminders to take their medication.”

The data also helps U-Haul target its wellness efforts to certain groups of employees. Data showed the company that there were a high number of claims related to diabetes. “That allows us to target the people affected, not everyone,” Wantland said. “We did a webinar on diabetes maintenance medication and how, if an employee is pre-diabetic, they can avoid becoming diabetic.” She said that following the webinar, data showed more employees using the pharmacy benefit management resource.

Benefits providers can be a helpful resource in establishing and maintaining a successful wellness program. “We went to our vendors and asked how to specifically target certain issues and team members. We sent them our goals and asked what they can do to help us reach these goals,” Wantland said.

Wantland said data from Springbuk measured opportunities by each employee location to determine how employees could save money on prescription drugs by using generics. “For the specific locations that had a lower use of generics, we collaborated with our pharmacy benefit manager to launch an education program, which resulted in prescription drug savings due to the increased use of generics,” she said. “This shows how you can use data to target even a small number of employees that have a savings opportunity.”

U-Haul measures the impact of its wellness offering by checking to see if there was a decrease in certain types of medical claims, examining how many employees engage with tools and programs, and gathering feedback from employees, Wantland said.

Using the data and feedback, U-Haul has added more virtual options and mobile applications to its wellness program offering, Lopez said.

“In recruiting new employees, we found out employees are expecting a culture of health,” she said. “We are constantly listening to employees and trying to improve their wellness options. It’s a key reason people want to work for and stay at U-Haul.”