7 Surprising Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

7 Surprising Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Ever thought about mindfulness in the workplace?

You know…can taking just a few minutes to focus really make a difference?

If you’re always slammed with meetings, deadlines, phone calls, and maybe overloaded with emails, you’re not alone.

If that’s what a typical day looks like, taking a breather for mindfulness in the workplace probably isn’t on your radar. Right?

And a lot of people can relate. In the middle of a global pandemic, there’s no shortage of stress and overwhelm for Man breathing deeplyemployees.

When that’s your day-to-day, it can take a toll on employee health, contribute to absenteeism and presenteeism, decrease productivity, and negatively impact your company culture.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Mindfulness in the workplace can actually improve health.

Something as simple as a focused five-minute break using FitMindful can make a difference.

Use FitMindful: The Mindfulness in the Workplace Tool for FitLyfe 360

We recently added FitMindful to the FitLyfe 360 platform to help employers offer mindfulness in the workplace. And it’s easy to use…

  • Log in to the FitLyfe 360 platform
  • Choose FitMindful
  • Select one of the mindfulness-practice audio programs
  • Follow the guided instructions for a 5-minute mindfulness practice. You’ll learn how to assess your thoughts, pay attention to your body, and control your breathing.

Note: You’ll want to set aside 5-minutes of quiet time for this. No phone calls, text messages, social media, or other interruptions. The goal: Focus for just 5 minutes.

Let’s Get Clear About Mindfulness

Even though mindfulness has been around for centuries, it’s still a bit of a misunderstood activity.

  • Do you sit cross-legged on a pillow and hum quietly to yourself? You don’t have to.
  • When you meditate, do you try and solve all your problems? No.
  • Is it just for people who have an interest in spirituality? No.
  • Does it require long periods of silence for hours a day? No.
  • If you do it once to try it out, will it work? It takes practice.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment.1

But instead of trying to problem-solve, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening in the present moment.

It helps you train your brain to focus, instead of buzzing from one problem to the next and back again.

7 Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Wondering if mindfulness in the workplace is just a passing trend?

It’s certainly gaining popularity. But research shows even short sessions of meditation can lower anxiety and stress.

In a University of Massachusetts study, researchers found that a daily mindfulness practice can help:2

  1. Lower blood pressure
  2. Improve mood
  3. Promote relaxation
  4. Improve sleep quality
  5. Reduce pain
  6. Stimulate creativity
  7. Control stress hormones

How to Use FitMindful to Promote Mindfulness in the Workplace

If you want to promote health, prevent disease, control healthcare costs, and improve productivity, FitMindful is one more resource to help you achieve your wellness-program goals.

  • Take a 5-minute mindfulness break. Encourage your employees to take at least 5 minutes out of their day to practice mindfulness, using FitMindful.
  • Host a mindfulness meeting (in-person or virtual), and show your employees how to use FitMindful.
  • Practice mindfulness together. You could even follow along and complete a FitMindful meditation exercise together.
  • Offer incentives for mindfulness. Offer your employees or participants wellness points for each mindfulness session completed.

Fun fact…In the book Tools of Titans: The tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers, author Tim Ferris discovered something they all have in common…3

  • A daily routine of focus and meditation.

Want more tips to help you run a successful wellness program?

Schedule a demo to learn more.

Wearable Devices: 5 Data-Driven Tips for Healthy Holiday Habits

If a healthier workforce is on your holiday wish list, tapping into the data that wearable devices can provide may be the perfect way to ring in the New Year.

Wearable devices at work

Wearable at workWearable devices (fitness trackers, smart watches, and mobile apps) are a standard part of many employee wellness programs. Now is the perfect time to suggest to your employees they add a wearable device on the top of their holiday gift list.

These devices contain a wealth of information that can help you motivate and reward employees with incentives.

Chances are pretty good your employees or wellness program participants use wearable devices or mobile apps that track and measure health-related activities and biometric data such as:

  • Steps
  • Minutes of physical activity
  • Stairs climbed
  • Sleep duration
  • Heart rate
  • Diet/Calories
  • Weight
  • Calories burned
  • Stress levels

Are you using wearable devices to improve population health?

Wearable devices: The top fitness trend of 2020

If you’re looking for a way to help your employees or wellness program participants develop healthy lifestyle habits and change behaviors, tapping into the power of wearable devices is a good place to start.

In the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020 the American College of Sports Medicine recently named wearable technology the number one fitness trend of the year.

“Wearable tech has become ingrained in today’s culture, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down,” says Dr. Walter Thompson, past president of ACSM. “Tech advances have made it easier than ever for users to collect important health metrics and work with fitness professionals and health care providers to improve exercise efficiency, develop healthy lifestyles, manage chronic diseases and, ultimately, increase quality of life.”

Wearable device compatibility

So what do you need to make wearable technology work for your wellness program?
It’s pretty simple. You need an easy way to integrate wearable device data with your wellness platform. So that’s what we did:

Wearable device compatibility

The FitLyfe 360 platform integrates with most fitness tracking devices and many third-party apps, and it’s currently compatible with:

  • Apple Health
  • Fitbit
  • Garmin
  • Google Fit
  • Microsoft Band
  • Polar
  • Select iOS and Android apps

With consent, wearable device data displays in the FitLyfe 360 dashboard for you and your participants. Use the data to track and measure progress, develop incentives, and offer rewards for achievements.

5 data-driven tips for healthy-holiday habits

It’s finally time to open the presents. If you’re looking for ways to help your employees or wellness program participants be healthier during the holidays, wearable devices can help.

Here are some things you can do.

  1. Holiday Steps Challenge. Host a daily steps challenge from now until New Year’s. Offer an incentive/reward to all employees who log 10,000 steps a day. Invite participants to share their daily wins to encourage and motivate others to stay active.
  2. Winter Zzzs Wonderland. For best health, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Host a challenge to encourage employees to get adequate sleep. Most wearable devices track sleep duration, sleep patterns, and quality of sleep.
  3. Jingle Bell Hustle. Most people know regular exercise is important. But not everyone knows what hustle looks like to burn calories. Host a challenge to encourage participants to elevate their heart rate during exercise. Target heart rate for moderate exercise is about 50 to 70% of maximum heart rate, or about 85 to 150 beats per minute for most adults. Many wearable devices track and measure heart rate during activity.
  4. Daily Weigh-In Delivery. Invite your participants to deliver a daily weigh-in report during the holidays. Many wearable devices and mobile apps can track weight and help participants set weight loss goals. Research shows stepping on the scale daily helps people be more mindful of their food choices and increase activity level to keep weight in check. The goal: Maintain don’t gain, during the holidays..
  5. Chill Out Challenge. Ever experienced a stressful holiday moment? It happens to just about everybody. But managing stress in healthy ways can help. Many wearable devices track stress levels and send notifications when stress is high. Host a challenge to encourage employees to use the Calm app or something similar to practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Chill out, calm the mind, and the body.

Want more tips on how to use wearable devices for wellness program success?
Schedule a demo to learn more

Loneliness: 8 Workplace Wellness Tips to Connect Your Employees

You’ve probably got your workplace wellness program dialed in to address major risk factors for chronic disease.

You know…the ones that cost the most money to treat, increase absenteeism, and kill productivity like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

But there’s an emerging trend that’s infiltrating almost every organization and company across the country that could cost you more…loneliness.

The Loneliness Survey

LonelinessIn a recent survey by the health insurance provider Cigna, analysts wanted to find out what loneliness looks like in today’s workforce. An estimated 20,000 adults completed the survey. Results show loneliness may be the next big issue workplace wellness needs to address.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • 47 percent of adults always feel alone or left out, and rarely spend time socializing with family, friends, or co-workers
  • 1 in 4 adults frequently feel like no one understands them
  • 2 in 5 adults feel isolated, without any meaningful relationships
  • 1 in 5 adults don’t have any close friends, or someone they can talk to

Are your employees lonely? Is loneliness an issue that impacts people within your organization?

If you’re not sure, you can ask questions about loneliness as part of a health risk assessment.

Or keep it simple and create a mini survey with just a couple of questions to find out if loneliness is taking a toll on their health, happiness, and performance at work.

Health Risks Linked to Loneliness

What does loneliness have to do with your workplace wellness program?

A lot more than you might realize if you’re committed to running a workplace wellness program designed to promote health, prevent disease, improve productivity, and control healthcare costs.

Here’s a typical scenario:

  • An employee shows up to work.
  • They put in their hours and talk occasionally to co-workers about projects.
  • When the work day is over, they go home, eat dinner, and spend the evening watching TV or movies, or maybe it’s the Internet and social media.

Anyone like that in your organization? It might seem like a simple life, but in reality, it’s lonely. And that’s a problem that contributes to absenteeism, presenteeism, high turnover rates, and a long list of health problems.

Research published in Health Psychology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and other journals have found that prolonged loneliness may increase the risk for costly healthy conditions like:[ct_column_third]

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Autoimmune disordersAutoimmune disorders

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8 Workplace Wellness Tips to Help Connect Employees

When an estimated 50 percent of all adults in the U.S. experience loneliness on a regular basis, there’s a good chance it’s an issue among your population, too.

What can you do to reduce loneliness and connect employees? Here are X wellness-program tips that can help make a difference:

1. Assess loneliness. You already to this for chronic diseases. Add loneliness to your list of HRA questions or invite employees to complete a short survey. Collecting data on loneliness can help you make decisions about how to address it.

Event at office2. Host a lunch event for employees. That could be a pot-luck, guest speaker, cooking demonstration, catered meal, or just a designated hour for eating and socializing.

3. Organize a get-to-know-you game. For example, invite employees to share one unique thing about themselves that others may not know (like an unusual job, places they’ve lived or traveled, an award or experience, a unique talent). Then reveal the details at staff meeting or turn it into a game to encourage employees to socialize with each other.

4. Plan a service project. As an organization, you could participate in a food drive, toy drive, or something similar in your community. Or you could partner with an organization to clean up a park, a trail, serve meals at a homeless shelter, or complete a service project in your area.

5. Create team wellness challenges. Turn the typical solo health challenge into a team event for a month. When everyone on the team achieves specific goals, the entire team earns a reward, wellness points, catered lunch, or something similar. Your workplace wellness program software should make this easy.

6. Recognize success. You can do this by email, in person, or even on social media. Recognize people in your organization who are actively participating in your wellness program. With permission, share a few details about their success to motivate and encourage others, and encourage conversations. Consider creating an “Employee of the Month” program, if you don’t already have one.

7. Be present. Set an example and invite your C-suite leadership to do the same. If your workplace wellness program encourages healthy eating, regular exercise, and other positive lifestyle habits, be the first to participate. Employees are more likely to participate, engage, and get involved when they see managers and executives take the first step.

8. Create a kudos board. Provide a way for employees to recognize their co-workers for accomplishments at work or outside of work. Invite employees to share wins on a whiteboard in a common area, submit via email within your organization, social media, or within your wellness platform.

Just because an employee is surrounded by co-workers doesn’t me they’re immune to loneliness. Half of all adults experience loneliness on a regular basis. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can use your workplace wellness program and wellness platform to create a culture of health, connect employees, and reduce the risk for loneliness.

Can your workplace wellness platform boost social engagement and reduce loneliness?
Schedule a demo to learn more

The Surprising Reason Corporate Wellness Programs Struggle

Corporate wellness program surprising facts

Ever wonder why some corporate wellness programs struggle to get results and others don’t?

When you’re trying to figure that out by comparing your approach to other corporate wellness programs, it can be hard to see from the outside looking in.

When you hit a roadblock like this as a wellness manager, administrator or broker, it’s easy to second-guess your approach to running a wellness program:

  • Maybe it’s your vendor
  • Maybe it’s your wellness initiatives
  • Maybe your incentives aren’t good enough to encourage participation
  • Maybe the user interface of your wellness platform is confusing
  • Maybe your wellness strategy is all wrong

Sound familiar?

Before you make any changes to your wellness program or rush out to replicate everything some other wellness program is doing, take a step back.

The real reason some corporate wellness programs struggle may surprise you…

The Knee-Jerk Reaction to Improve Wellness Outcomes

You’re in the wellness business to promote health, prevent disease, improve productivity, control healthcare costs, and improve the quality of life for your population or your clients.

So what happens when you reach a population health milestone and the outcomes don’t show improvements, cost savings, or a boost in productivity and happiness?

If you’re contemplating a knee-jerk reaction to fix the problem, you’re not alone.

Think about how you might respond to the following after reviewing a year of population health data:

  • Health risks for your population haven’t changed much
  • Wellness program participation is stagnant or even lower than it was
  • Health claims and healthcare costs are on the rise
  • Your C-suite leadership team wants to see a return on investment
  • Participants have asked for features and programs you can’t deliver with the tools or budget you have to work with

If your knee-jerk reaction is to check your vendor contract to find out when it ends or how much it would cost to break the agreement, that’s pretty normal.

It’s one reason so many corporate wellness programs change vendors every couple of years. It’s easy to look for a quick fix and start thinking:

  • Maybe the grass is greener on the other side
  • Maybe you need a new wellness vendor, a new platform, or a new strategy
  • Maybe one of those cookie-cutter corporate wellness programs is what you need

If you’ve ever thought about your wellness program this way, join the club. The trouble is, there usually isn’t a quick fix, and a new set of corporate wellness vendors comes with a new set of challenges.

How Would You Fix a Corporate Wellness Headache?

Corporate Wellness HeadacheIf you have a pounding headache, what would you do?

If you go with a quick-fix option, like taking over-the-counter medication, you might get some temporary relief.

Maybe the headache goes away for a few hours or a few days. But then it’s back. Maybe the symptoms are worse. And this time more over-the-counter medicine doesn’t work.

Now what?

You go see a doctor who specializes in treating headaches.

Instead of quickly writing a prescription, the doctor takes time to sift through all the variables that could be linked to your headache problems (mold, pets, stress, nutrition, poor sleep, etc.) And you get a personalized treatment plan to help you manage your headaches. It’s a long-term fix. You feel better. You’re happier.

If you want to build an effective wellness program, you’ve got to take a personalized approach that makes sense for your organization and your population.

Build Your Own Corporate Wellness Program

Corporate Wellness ProgramWondering why so many corporate wellness programs fall short or hop from one strategy and vendor to the next?

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions or cookie-cutter answers to designing corporate wellness programs. It’s the surprising reason so many wellness programs struggle.

  • So what’s the best corporate wellness program for your organization? It’s the one that you build.

It’s that simple. And it’s why we built the FitLyfe 360 platform. Every detail and feature of the platform is customizable and configurable.

If you want a comprehensive wellness program, use every tool and feature. Or if something as simple as a health risk assessment or biometric screening is the scope of your wellness program, that’s fine too.

That’s the kind of personalized approach to wellness every organization needs and every population deserves. The best wellness program is the one that you build, not a cookie-cutter fix.

Ready to start building your wellness program? Schedule a demo today.

5 Ways Technology Drives Wellness Program Success

wellness quiz

Ever wonder what technology can do for your wellness program?

You’re tasked with running a wellness program to promote health, prevent disease, and control healthcare costs. What do you need to be successful?

That’s a question expert climber Sir Edmund Hillary and his crew must have considered when they set out to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Many had tried to reach the peak of the 29,000-foot summit, but fell short of the goal. Hillary was determined to change that. And he did with the best gear and climbing technology of the time.

Are you using the best technology available to run your wellness program?

It’s the difference between climbing half way up the mountain and reaching the summit. Ask your C-Suite leadership team or your clients where they want to go, and they’ll all tell you they want to aim for reaching the summit.

How will you get there? The right technology will help you run a successful wellness program, much like it helped support Hillary’s expedition to Summit Everest.

Here are 5 ways technology drives wellness program success:

1. Identify risk factors

Hillary and his crew needed to know all the dangers they would encounter to prepare to summit Everest. So they collected information from previous summit attempts, and other climbing parties. They monitored the weather. They studied known climbing routes.

It’s the kind of upfront work you need to do to run a successful wellness program. Technology makes it a lot easier to administer a health risk assessment, or collect and analyze biometric screening data.

Both of these population health metrics provide critical data to help you develop your wellness program, and web-based tools like these make it easier, more accurate, and faster to administer and analyze.

2. Develop interventions

Put yourself in Hillary’s shoes. What should you do if there’s an obstacle in the way, weather patterns predict dangerous weather, or a previous climbing route proved to be impassable? Find a better way.

Use technology to collect population health data, and you’ll have a rich resource of information to help you refine your wellness strategy. That could include hand-picked Health Challenges to address a specific risk factor, or Health Coaching to help employees eat healthier, exercise more, get preventive care, and develop healthy lifestyle habits.

Other tech-based wellness interventions can include access to a Health Education Library, mini quizzes, and done-for-you Wellness and Health Programs.

The right wellness technology makes it easy to create a report of population health risk factors and choose interventions that will have the biggest impact on disease prevention, productivity, and healthcare costs.

3. Measure results

When Hillary reached the summit of Everest on May 29, 1953, it wasn’t by accident. He learned a lot from previous attempts, and other climbing expeditions that tried and failed. After each attempt, he took a closer look at the strategy and all the elements of an expedition to look for ways to improve.

Is your wellness strategy working? Measure your results. Find out by using wellness technology to track things like year-to-year:

  • Health risk assessment results
  • Biometric screening results
  • Participation rates
  • Healthcare claims and costs
  • Wellness program costs and ROI

4. Increase engagement

Climbing Everest generally isn’t a one-man expedition. It’s a team effort. The more people actively involved in making the climb, the more successful the expedition is going to be.

So how do you get more people involved in your wellness program? Use technology like:

Wellness Event Management tools to set appointments, send reminders, and motivate employees to make smart lifestyle choices. Send a group email or private message. Connect on social media. And keep participants informed.

Wearable Technology. Use a wellness platform that makes it easy to integrate wearable technology to capture participant data from smart watches, computes, and mobile apps. Research shows digital fitness trackers, devices and apps can help motivate people to make better choices.

Online Incentive Management to reward participants for completing wellness-related activities or achieving a health goal. The right tools automate the process for you, track points for participants, and provide an easy-to-manage experience to redeem the points for products and services.

5. Create a culture of health

When Hillary and his climbing crew reached the summit of Everest, he accomplished the impossible. For decades, the tallest peak in the world eluded even the best climbers. Hillary’s successful ascent motivated the rest of the climbing community to keep trying and keep improving.

What happens when an employee shares their weight-loss success story with co-workers? Or shares pictures of their transformation on social media? People notice.

What happens when you create a friendly competition with a cash prize for the person who logs the most steps for a month? People get excited. Participation rates go up. Productivity rises. Healthcare costs start to decline.

Wellness technology makes it easier than ever to create a culture of health, inspire others, facilitate change, and reach the summit of your wellness program goals.

Gear up with proven wellness technology
If you want to run a successful wellness program, the right wellness technology tools can make your climb easier, faster, and more effective than relying on how it’s always been done.

Ready to rise to the top? Let’s connect.

Top 16 Features of a Successful Wellness Platform

Are you looking for a
corporate wellness platform?

Are you looking for a corporate wellness platform?

Maybe you’re a wellness manager or human resources director tasked with choosing a corporate wellness platform for your company.

You start looking around at all your options, and you get that deer-in-the-headlights look. But, You’re you’re left wondering which corporate wellness platform will work best for your organization. Sound familiar?

You start looking around at all your options, and you get that deer-in-the-headlights look. You’re left wondering which corporate wellness platform will work best for your organization. Sound familiar?

Are you feeling frustrated about choosing a wellness platform? Uncertain? Not sure which one is right for your organization? You’re not alone.

What is a wellness platform?

A wellness platform is a web-based technology that can host a variety of programs used to evaluate, engage, inform, motivate, and incentivize employees based on your wellness strategy. The platform should be API-compatible with the ability to integrate with third-party vendors.

What’s the difference between a
wellness platform and a wellness portal?

A wellness platform gives you the ability to add programs beyond the vendor-established program offering or cookie-cutter design of a wellness portal. An effective corporate wellness platform features a flexible design that allows you configure it to meet the needs of your organization, population, and wellness and benefits strategy.

Develop your strategy
with a corporate wellness platform

A wellness platform is not a strategy. With the right features, it’s a tool you can use to develop and implement your strategy to promote health, prevent disease, increase engagement, boost productivity, and ultimately control healthcare costs.

With the right approach, intrinsic motivation will lead people who are already health conscious to engage, participate, and set an example for others. And with a little nudge of extrinsic motivation from your wellness strategy, you can boost participation and have a greater impact on population health.

What wellness features matter most? Start with this. You need to protect your data. Data security should be your highest priority. Your wellness platform must protect personal health information. And it must comply with all state and federal privacy laws. It’s critical to security. And it’s critical to boost engagement.

Still not sure which platform is right for you? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. And don’t just roll the dice and pick one. Make sure the platform you choose includes these 16 features:

1. Highly flexible

No two wellness programs are the same. Every workforce population is different. And health risk factors for one population won’t be the same from one organization to the next. A one-size-fits-all corporate wellness platform doesn’t make sense. Going with a fixed-design platform will only lead to more frustration.

  • Your corporate wellness platform needs to be flexible,
  • It needs to be customizable
  • And it needs to be easily configurable to fit your wellness strategy

Your wellness strategy might focus on well-being, use a hybrid model, be outcome-based, or even use a combination of different strategies. Your wellness platform needs to support your strategy and be adaptable. Otherwise, you’re almost guaranteed to waste time and money trying to achieve your wellness program goals.

Is your corporate wellness platform highly flexible?

2. Health risk assessment

If you want to identify population health risk factors that cost your organization the most in healthcare dollars, use a health risk assessment. It’s an evidence-based questionnaire designed to help you collect information about diet, lifestyle, and health risks from individuals to get a picture of population health.

NCQAHRA data for your population will help you shape your wellness strategy. And individual participants can use their personal HRA data to work with a health coach or their doctor to get healthy and stay healthy.

Does your corporate wellness platform include a health risk assessment?

3. Health literacy

Health literacyDid you know only 12 percent of adults in the U.S. have a basic understanding of health literacy? That’s a problem. Ever checked to find out if the health information you share with your population is easy to understand? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medicaid, and many health insurance companies require patient-facing health content be written at or below a 7th grade reading level.

Does your corporate wellness platform meet health literacy standards?

4. Quiz builder

QuizWhat if you wanted real-time data from your population? You want to find out how they’re doing. What’s their diet, exercise, exercise, sleep, mental health like? How would you get that info? Create a short quiz, and ask. If your corporate wellness platform includes a quiz builder, it’s easy:

  • Pick a topic.
  • Write your quiz questions and answers.
  • Assign correct answers a point value.
  • You can even offer an incentive for completing the quiz. It’s a fast and easy way to boost engagement and get information you can use to drive wellness programming.

Can you create a quiz with your corporate wellness platform?

5. Wellness event calendar

You plan a wellness event and want your population to participate. How do you let them know about it? You could piece together a communication plan via email, an online calendar, and digital reminders. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If your corporate wellness platform includes a wellness event calendar, you can easily:

  • Schedule biometric screenings
  • Schedule fitness classes
  • Invite participants to a cooking demonstration
  • Host a financial wellness classes
  • Track sign-ups.
  • Set automatic reminders.
  • And make your life easier as a wellness program manager

Does your corporate wellness platform have an event calendar/planner?

6. Biometric screening

biometric-screening

It’s a critical component of an effective wellness program. Results from a basic blood draw can provide insight about health risks. Biometric screening data can tell you if your population is at risk for things like:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Certain types of cancer, and more.

It takes time to coordinate a biometric screening and get results. But it doesn’t have to. Choose a corporate wellness platform already connected to a network of medical providers for on-site and off-site biometric screenings.

Does your corporate wellness platform offer biometric screenings?

7. Corporate wellness challenges

wellness challegnesNeed a fun and easy way to engage your population? Host a health challenge. If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry. The best corporate wellness platforms include done-for-you wellness challenges that are easy to launch and manage like:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day
  • Keep a food diary
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

Your health challenge shouldn’t just provide a way to log activity. Done right, it can have a much bigger impact. With a properly-designed health challenge, you can motivate people to change behaviors, create a culture of health, engage participants, and get results. How do you do it? Provide action steps to be successful with incentive points to boost participation, and a way to track activity to increase accountability.

Does your corporate wellness platform offer corporate wellness challenges?

8. Health education content library

Want to support your published health education content? Provide digital health education content in the form videos your participants can watch, or audio files they can listen to. Some people learn better this way. It’s also a way to reinforce what someone already knows.Award them at the same time. You can use it beyond wellness like safety or on-boarding and many other purposes.

Does your corporate wellness program have a video/audio library of health education content?

9. Targeted communication

If you really want your wellness program to make a difference in population health and improve the lives of your employees, create targeted communications. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Invite participants with three or more risk factors for chronic disease to meet with a health coach.
  • Create an event to help participants with high blood pressure learn lifestyle, exercise, and diet strategies to lower it.
  • Host an exercise class or group walk for people who aren’t getting enough exercise.

Is there confusion among employees at different locations about your wellness program? Targeted communications can prevent that, too.

Can you send targeted communications with your corporate wellness platform?

10. Wellness rewards

RewardsWhat’s one of the best ways to boost wellness program participation? Reward effort and participation. Here’s how. Reward the effort with redeemable wellness points (for products or services) as an incentive. You could try and piece together your own program, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. An effective corporate wellness platform should include a plug-and-play system for wellness rewards.

Does your corporate wellness platform make it easy to offer wellness rewards?

11. Wearable technology integration

Wearables

Everybody knows self-reported data is a flawed way of tracking physical activity. But if you want to encourage your participants to be more active, how do you track it? Use wearable technology to collect participant data from:

  • Fitness watches
  • Digital tracking devices
  • Mobile apps

It’s easy if your corporate wellness platform is able to integrate with popular apps and devices. The major players include Google, Apple, FitBit, Garmin, and Samsung. If your wellness platform use a third-party aggregator, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where is the data goes?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • Who owns the data?
  • Is the third-party selling your participant data?
  • What are they using your data for?
  • Is it covered under the BAA?
  • If the third-party experiences a security preach, is your participant data at risk?

Real-time data from digital devices and apps can be a great way to engage participants and get accurate data. But you need to make sure your wellness platform provider protects this data.

Everybody knows self-reported data is a flawed way of tracking physical activity. But if you want to encourage your participants to be more active, how do you track it? Use wearable technology like fitness watches, tracking devices, and mobile apps to collect participant data. It’s easy if your corporate wellness platform is able to integrate with popular apps and devices. If your wellness platform use a Third party aggregator then where is the data goes, who owns it, are they selling it? What are they using it for? Is is covered under the BAA?

Is your corporate wellness platform wearable-technology compatible?

12. Healthy recipes

What’s wrong with the typical American diet?

  • Too many calories
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Added sugars
  • Refined grains
  • Too much sodium
  • And not enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

How can you help your population make better food choices? Share easy-to-make healthy recipes with information like serving size, calories per serving, and macronutrient information for proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Does your corporate wellness platform have a library of healthy recipes?

13. Incentive management

How do you motivate participants to complete a wellness task? This can include things like a:

• Health risk assessment
• Biometric screening
• Fitness challenge
• Healthier eating
• Wellness events

The solution to boost participation: An effective corporate wellness program should be designed to make it easy to assign point values for wellness activities. When a participant earns points, give them a way to redeem points for gift cards or online purchases for products and services they need, want, and use.

A highly-configurable platform provides you with the flexibility you need to set the parameters that fit your company and not be forced to use the criteria of other companies.

Does your corporate wellness program include incentive management?

14. Health coaching

Want to help your participants and your population get healthy and adopt lifestyle habits to stay healthy? Offer health coaching. Your corporate wellness platform should make it easy for a health coaching to:

  • Look at participant data
  • Identify readiness to change
  • Evaluate health risks
  • Make recommendations to improve health
  • Track progress. Member should also have access to their own coaching data.

Does your corporate wellness platform include health coaching features?

15. Claim integration

What are the primary health-related costs for your organization? If your corporate wellness platform is designed to support claim integration, it’s easy to compare health risk assessment and biometric screening results with health claims. It’s a data-driven way to:

• Make decisions to shape your wellness strategy
• Develop interventions to have the biggest impact on controlling healthcare costs
• Measure your return on investment in wellness, and more.

Does your corporate wellness platform support claim integration?

16. Analytics and reporting

Analytics and reporting

  • What are the primary health risk factors for your population?
  • Did you see an improvement in population health from year to year?
  • What lifestyle habits impact your population the most?
  • Are your efforts to boost wellness program participation working?

If you want answers to these questions and more, your corporate wellness platform must give you the ability to analyze your data and generate reports to better understand your population. And it should be easy to do.

Does your corporate wellness platform include easy-to-use tools to analyze population health data and create reports?

16 Must-Have Features
for Wellness Program Success

If you’re looking for a corporate wellness program with ultimate flexibility and customization, these 16 must-have features will make wellness program administration easier, support your wellness strategy, help you boost engagement and improve population health, and make your job easier.

The FitLyfe difference

Looking for a customizable wellness platform for your population to drive engagement, simplify program management, and get results?
Schedule a demo today.

Wellness Platform And Elephant Stampede?

Can your wellness platform vendor handle an elephant stampede?

That might sound like a weird question, but think about it like this.

When you’re trying to help a client find a wellness platform vendor, what’s your confidence level FitLyfe is the right one to recommend?

If you’re not sure, you might choose a vendor you have more experience working with, even though it’s not the right fit.

But if your client isn’t happy after signing a contract, renewals and referrals are going to be hard to lock down to grow your business. And that’s not what you want, right?

So how do we bridge the gap to boost your confidence level in the FitLyfe 360 platform?

Easy. Show you how it holds up against an elephant stampede.

Wellness platform confidence

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened 135 years ago to speed commute time between Brooklyn and Manhattan, people needed a little nudge to give it a try. (How do you decide between FitLyfe and another vendor for your clients?) The confidence factor wasn’t there for a bunch of reasons:

  • It was new. (CEO Sam Salbi launched FitLyfe in 2015)
  • It took 14 years to build. (Salbi carved out a career as a visionary Health IT software developer over 20 years before launching FitLyfe.)
  • It was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge, and the longest at the time. (FitLyfe is the only wellness platform with real-time FitDoc processesing for physician forms, claims, health club reimbursements, onsite health clinic records, and more.)
  • It stretched across the East River at over a mile long and 277 feet tall. (FitLyfe’s reach includes clients in every industry and organizational size that operate successful wellness programs using an NCQA-certified health risk assessment and tools to support population health management.)
  • It was was suspended and supported by over 14,000 miles of steel cables. (FitLyfe’s design, research & development, quality assurance, security protocols, customization, customer service, and ongoing maintenance surpass any wellness platform vendors in the industry.)
  • People were used to riding the Fulton Ferry to cross the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It took a lot longer, but many weren’t confident the bridge was safe. (Other wellness platforms exist, but don’t offer the same level of wellness program solutions and customization as the FitLyfe 360 platform.)

The elephant stampede test

When Manhattan and Brooklyn city leaders recognized concerns about crossing the bridge, they launched a series of public service campaigns to show people the bridge was safe.

One of the most memorable?

Circus promoter P.T. Barnum paraded 21 elephants (~250,000 pounds) across the bridge to show people it could handle the demands of commuter traffic. More than 100 years later, about 125,000 cars, 4,000 pedestrians, and 2,600 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day.

Bridge the gap: The wellness platform for client success

If you’re looking for a corporate wellness platform vendor to help your clients, FitLyfe can handle the load (like the Brooklyn Bridge) to help any organization:

  • Promote health
  • Prevent disease
  • Control healthcare costs
  • Boost productivity
  • Increase engagement
  • Develop a culture of health
  • Protect personal health information
  • Create customized reports
  • Administer biometric screenings and health risk assessments
  • Use wearable devices to track activity
  • Manage participant data
  • Offer wellness incentives and rewards
  • Select effective wellness initiatives based on population health data
  • Aid wellness managers in program administration, and
  • Create a customized experience to maximize wellness results, and much more.

The FitLyfe Difference

Looking for a customizable corporate wellness platform to help your clients drive engagement, simplify program management, and get results?

Schedule a demo today.

6 Ways to Help Your Health and Wellness Participants Stay on Track

Ideas For Wellness

It’s been about a month since New Year’s resolutions were a topic of conversation around the water cooler.

Lose weight. Eat healthy. Exercise daily. Sleep better. Stress less.

Poll your population, and these are the health and wellness topics they’re probably talking about.

How’s it going? The die-hard goal setter might be making progress. But for a lot of people, resolutions start out as good intentions, then fizzle out after a few weeks. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Want to help your population get back on track and turn 2019 into a year of health and wellness wins?

Top 7 health and wellness resolutions

Data collected by the National Institutes of Health says the most popular health and wellness resolutions include:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get more physical activity
  3. Eat more nutritious foods
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Cut back on alcohol
  6. Reduce stress
  7. Sleep better

Tip: If you really want to know what health and wellness resolutions your population is interested in, use your wellness platform to find out. Ask a survey question through your wellness platform, or find out by looking at health risk assessment data from the readiness to change question set.

New Year’s resolutions:
Back on track or off the rails?

With a few health and wellness resolutions picked out, a lot of people make a solid effort the first few days or the first few weeks of the year.

But all too often, good intentions start to slide and that commitment to stick to resolutions goes off the rails. Sound familiar?

In a study on New Year’s resolutions at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that:

  • About 45 percent of all adults make New Year’s resolutions
  • Within a week, 11 percent throw in the towel and give up
  • After a month, 28 percent are still working keeping their New Year’s resolution
  • At six months, 20 percent of resolution-makers are still in the game
  • But only 6 percent of people who make resolutions stick with it for an entire year

Tip: Use your wellness platform or survey data to identify trends in wellness program participation. Then look for ways to increase engagement and help your participants achieve their goals.

6 Ways to Help Your Participants Stay on Track

As a wellness coordinator, wellness manager, or health coach, you want to help people adopt healthy lifestyle habits to prevent disease. But sometimes people need a bit of a nudge or gentle reminder to stay on track. Here are some ways to help people stick to their resolutions recommended by the National Institutes of Health:

1. Write down goals and keep track of activity. Studies show that people who write down their resolutions and keep track of their activity are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. For example, in a recent study, researchers found that people who kept a details food diary for six months lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.

Tip: Encourage participants to use your wellness platform tracking tools, fitness devices, or third-party apps to set goals and track progress.

2. Recommend the one-step-at-a-time approach. It’s going to be hard to convince a participant to go from eating pizza and fast food every day following a plant-based diet. So don’t. Take it one step at a time. Maybe its extra bell peppers on a pizza, and a leafy-green salad with a fast food order to start. And for the non-exerciser, forget about pushing 60-minute gym workouts. Start with a 10-minute walk and go from there. Think about it like the progression described in the transtheoretical model of behavior change.

Tip: Create a health challenge or wellness initiative specific to your population to help them achieve their goal.

3. Help participants plan for obstacles. The path to success usually isn’t a straight line from point A to point B. In reality, there’s obstacles along the way. Help your participants recognize what might prevent them from losing weight, eating healthier, exercising regularly, etc., and come up with a plan to keep moving forward when that happens.

4. Be a role model. Want your participants to adopt healthy behaviors, make better food choices, and stick to their New Year’s resolutions? Be a role model.

Set a good example without pressuring people. Eat healthy foods. Walk or bike to work. Take the stairs.

Your participants will notice. And they’ll be more likely to ask questions, model your behavior, and adopt healthy habits.

Tip: Get to know your participants, and you’ll probably find others who can also serve as role model or wellness champion to encourage others.

5. Create social support and accountability. Your participants are a lot more likely to keep working on their health and wellness goals if they have support and accountability from a social network, according to a recent study.

Tip: Develop a culture of health, hosting health challenges, and event that give participants a chance to get to know each other.

6. Stay the course, get back on track. The truth about New Year’s resolutions is a bit sobering. Only 28 percent of goal setters make it past a month. A lot of people start off the year with good intentions, but end up giving up on their health and fitness goals. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can help your participants stay the course or get back on track.

Tip: Use your wellness platform and wellness incentives program for employees to motivate and reward participants to achieve their goals.

Help participants keep their resolutions to win at wellness

One month into the New Year, your participants are starting to lose motivation to stick to their health and wellness goals. Rescue those resolutions and take action.

How do you help participants achieve health and wellness goals? Lets Connect

5 Wellness Trends to Boost Health Management in 2019

Blog
What’s going to help you maximize wellness program participation to get results in 2019? It’s one of the critical questions you have to consider every year to develop effective wellness programs and allocate resources. Your wellness strategy and participant data can help you make informed decisions. But wouldn’t it be nice to look at what’s trending in wellness to help you promote health, prevent disease, and lower healthcare costs? Take a look at the top five wellness trends in 2019 to find out if you’re on the right track.

1. Less screen time rises as a wellness initiative

How many hours a day are your participants staring into a screen? A lot. You don’t have to look far to know exposure to blue light from TV, smartphones, tablets, and computers is greater than it’s ever been. And that’s a problem. Research shows chronic exposure to blue light may be linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It can have an effect on mood and mental health, too. And more employers are making efforts to prevent that. What can you do to help your participants disconnect and reduce screen time? Here are a few examples:
  • Set boundaries and expectations for electronic communications (email, chat, video, etc.)
  • Create a health challenge to encourage less screen time
  • Offer incentives for participants to who reduce screen time

2. More wellness programs take a holistic approach

It wasn’t that long ago that diet and exercise comprised the bulk of wellness program design. But that’s changing as more organizations take a holistic approach to wellness to address physical, mental, financial, spiritual, and social health. If you want to improve wellness program participation, make it easier for participants to access programs and services. Onsite services like health clinics, child care, financial management, or massage therapy can reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and have a positive impact on ROI. Telemedine is another service that’s gaining popularity because it’s more convenience and less expensive than a trip to the doctor or hospital.

3. Employers give snacks at work a make-over

Does your lunchroom have a vending machine stocked with sugary drinks and candy bars? Or maybe participants don’t have any options, and frequently choose nearby fast food options. Why not make it easier for your participants to eat healthy? Research shows poor food choices at work may increase the risk for anxiety, depression, and emotional eating. But more employers are making an effort to change that by providing health snack options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • If your organization has an on-site cafeteria, give the menu a makeover to offer more healthy options.
  • Stock the lunchroom with free fruits and healthy snacks.
  • Or check with your vendor to provide healthier vending machine choices.

4. Participant interests drives wellness programming

Ever rolled out a wellness program initiative that flopped? It happens. But if you take time to listen to your participants, their interests can help you drive wellness programming. The more adaptable you are to adjust to participant interests, the more likely you’ll see an increase in engagement. So let’s say you’ve identified participant interest in meditation and yoga. Bring in an instructor and host a series of classes. If participants express an interest in eating better, bring in a dietitian or nutritionist for a healthy-cooking demo and discussion.

5. Mental health initiatives get more attention

Did you know 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health issue at least once a year? That might be something as common as having a bad day or grieving the loss of a loved one. Or it could be a more a chronic problem like anxiety or depression More employers recognize the impact mental health can have on productivity, presenteesism, absenteeism, safety, and well-being. And it’s why more wellness programs now include mental health initiatives. If you want to grow your wellness program in 2019, increase participation, and achieve your population health goals, take a look at your strategy and see if these trends are part of your plan. Looking for a customizable wellness platform?

Let’s connect.

Need a Wellness Platform? Avoid The Common Mistakes

Are you’re in the market for a wellness platform? You’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

Market research shows corporate wellness is a $40 billion industry. That means there’s a lot of competition in wellness technology to support population health management.

But not every wellness vendor, platform, or tool is the right fit for your organization.

So how do you sort it all out?

If your buying decision isn’t based on a wellness strategy for your population, you could be making a Big Mistake.

The Payless Effect

Last month the discount retailer Payless Shoesource opened its first luxury store, Palessi, in Santa Monica, Calif., for high-end shoppers. Droves of people walked through the doors, enticed by fashion influencers and the store’s posh design. And they paid up to $645 for sneakers and stilettos.

But the exact same shoes sell for 1,800 percent less at other Payless stores. Shoppers learned this when they left the store, received a full refund, and got to keep the shoes. And the experiment shed some light on how people make buying decisions.

The lesson for wellness managers:

If you choose wellness platform software solely based on its look and feel or broker recommendation, you could be making a mistake.

If you want a wellness platform to help you improve population health and simplify program management, don’t make these buying-decision mistakes:

  • Everybody’s doing it. If you’re looking for a wellness platform, health risk assessment, or other wellness program tools, it won’t take long to realize there’s a lot of competition…and a lot of choices. It’s very time consuming to sort through the garbage. But if you pick a wellness platform based on popularity or the company with the biggest marketing budget, instead of your wellness strategy, you could be in trouble.
  • The user interface looks nice. It happens more often than you might think. The wellness manager recommends a variety of wellness platform vendors. And then the decision maker swoops in, sees a couple of demos, and picks the one with the best user interface and design. Don’t make this mistake.
  • It’s expensive, so it must be good. The Payless experiment is a good example of how easily price can influence perception. If you rule out wellness platform vendors based on price, instead of taking a closer look at features, benefits, and customization options that support your wellness strategy, you could be making a costly mistake.
  • My broker said, “It’s the best.” Not all brokers are bad. I want to believe most are in the business to help their clients promote health, prevent disease, boost productivity, and lower healthcare costs. But the reality is, some are just in it to make a sale. Don’t make this mistake. Get to know your broker. Take a closer look at their relationship with the vendor. And find out what kind of support you’ll get after signing a service contract.
  • It doesn’t really work for my population, but…You bite the bullet and sign a three-year contract for a wellness platform. But it doesn’t take long for you to realize, it doesn’t have the functionality you need to support your wellness strategy. You start developing work-arounds for a clunky system you’re paying for. And when the contract is up, you renew because it’s “easier,” or you switch vendors without a wellness strategy.

Sound familiar? If you’re in the market for a wellness platform there’s a lot of factors to consider. And you don’t want to make a buying decision you’ll regret. Here’s what I recommend:

    • Map out a wellness strategy for your population. (Cookie cutter plans just don’t work, because every population is a little different.)
    • Get input from wellness managers who will administer the program.
  • Establish a baseline of wellness platform tools and features you need to be successful
  • Anticipate needs to adapt or make changes as your population or wellness
  • strategy evolves.
  • Partner with a wellness platform company that provides unlimited customization options that meets your needs and your budget.

Looking for a customizable wellness platform? Let’s connect.

Selecting The Right Tool and Vendor For Health and Wellness Programs

Voluntary program for better health

Having the best-suited health and wellness vendor with the right technology tool to support your health and wellness plan design, strategy, goals, and wrapping it all into a well-crafted member experience is the primary need for every plan administrator. And, on its surface, finding that correct, total solution appears to be an easy process to many because of the large number of vendors in the marketplace.  From large named vendors to smaller ones, choices are everywhere.  But, finding the best fit for your organization requires planning and thoughtful attention to ensure that promises will actually turn into reality.

I.  Strategy and Program Selection

Before embarking in a selection process, you have to evaluate your plan design’s overall strategy in order to determine which strategy you will be choosing. The three main types are:

1) Full Voluntary, a “nice to have” program that is designed to simply promote better health, building morale and add to the value of your overall benefit portfolio to attract and retain employees;

2) Wellbeing -Activity with incentives, also designed for voluntary member participation but with the nuance of money and/or prizes to entice higher engagement rates; and

3) Outcomes-based (health-contingent), which ties healthy member outcomes on an annual basis to such things as rewards and/or premium contribution rates.

Some points to consider when determining which approach is more relevant to your organization are:

    • Your population’s age range, gender, and cultural requirements
    • The type of industry your company occupies
    • Your population’s overall health status and related needs
    • Your population’s claim data and what indications it shows related to needed risk reduction(s) for chronic, non-accident-related conditions
    • Leadership engagement level

Once the above information has been collected and is known, then, you are ready to select the type of corporate wellness programs that is aligned with your population’s needs.

An example of how the aforementioned factors are used in determining program strategy could be: A population age group between 30-55 that has a noticeable claims occurrences of back pain diagnoses and a need to proactively address and prevent this specific condition risk.

There are several programs out there to tackle this risk, ranging from standing desk mechanical configurations, to building healthier habits through exercise and more. Select the program of your choice and assign an associated goal with success criteria to measure the outcome of the program.

As part of the wellness program implementation, the following components are very important:

  • Communication and Marketing
  • Program implementation and measurement (engagement, completion, impact on health, culture, and meeting the success criteria that were establish when selecting the program.)
  • Incentives
  • Reporting and insight
  • Revision of the program and adjust as needed

II.  Creating a Capabilities and Features List

With the example above, and when selecting the vendor, list all the features and functionalities that will help you achieve the success criteria for your program.

When selecting a vendor, you should:

  1. Evaluate the vendor’s technology strategy in direct parallel with your wellness strategy, e.g. incentive management program and the type of reports you need
  2. Establish a list of mandatory modules, a functionality features list that the successful vendor must have
  3. Establish a list of non-essential but nice-to-have features that are geared toward enhancing the program’s overall member and administrative user experiences
  4. Detail a list of program legal compliance requirements that are essential to the delivery of your wellbeing program, e.g. EEOC, GINA, DOL, IRS regulatory notifications. Ex. wearable fitness tracker devices giveaway, how alternative standards are addressed for member’s unable to meet the primary requirements, etc.

Compile the above points in an excel sheet and drive the selection from there. This will help you to ask the vendor and document the relevant questions during the demo phase, which will finally be embedded in the contract. This will put you in the driver’s seat to achieve your goals. The vendor can show and demonstrate their corporate wellness technology. From this perspective, you are placing the vendor in a position to physically demonstrate their capabilities in relation to each needed requirement versus a global picture in which some of your detailed needs may be lost and not realized until after the contract is executed.

III.  Vendor Vetting

After obtaining all the information from your Excel sheet, you should take each proposal and compare the listed functionalities and capabilities presented and cross-reference them against your requirements. This basic check-and-balance, while very simple, will ensure no detail has been missed and that you will receive all elements of your documented requirements.  This simple step can be easily overlooked, creating pain after contracting because of missed detail that makes the technology offering incapable of fully supporting your total program needs.  This method also provides the most objective analysis of all vendors by creating true clarity during the evaluation process and ensures you are comparing “apples to apples”.

If you have a broker that is assisting with this process, you should ask them for the raw spreadsheet-results to confirm your own review of the details. Sometimes, the results are summarized or just a recommendation of the vendor-of-choice are returned.  This is not to say that your broker may have missed your requirements or is promoting a vendor with which they have a preferred relationship, regardless of the ability to match to your needs.  Rather, it is a final, personal sign-off from you that gives you peace of mind and confidence in the chosen solution before moving into a contracting phase, after which you will be the accountable party for the delivery and performance of your new partner.  .

Your final review of the vendor submissions also ensures you not only have a clear picture of how their capabilities align with your needs.  It also gives you insight on total costs to launch and operate the program.  For vendors that may be missing features that you have to have or would like to have, they may be capable and willing to build these into your solution.  But, a large question arises related to cost.  Vendors may see a common application of your requirement(s) that may be missing and decide to incorporate them at a reduced cost or free of charge in order to enhance the experience of all customers.  Otherwise, there will most likely be full charges associated with these changes to their existing technology configuration to accommodate your needs.  It is highly advisable to know your financial exposure before any contract is signed.  And, on the note of contracting, you should consider two critical elements that will help ensure your overall satisfaction.  First, you should have performance guarantees (PG’s) written into the contract in which the vendor agrees to be bound by certain standards, per your requirements, and places a percentage of fees at-risk that will be payable to you should they not meet them.  Second, you should push for the inclusion of a cancellation clause that allows you to terminate the contract for-cause in the event of performance dissatisfaction.

IV.  Implementation and On-Going Support

One element that is equally as critical as assessing capabilities is determining how the vendor will support you during the implementation phase, as well as, on-going support you will need during active day-to-day performance. Vendors have a wide range with respect to their account support practices.  You have to determine your tolerances in terms of workload that you can accommodate during both phases.  You should ask for a copy of each vendor’s proposed implementation plan as part of your vetting process.  This helps you in the decision making process two-fold:  1)  It ensures that all items are accounted for and incorporated in a timeline that can be monitored through to completion; and 2) It should include assigned responsibilities for the person or entity to carry out the task.  This second component will allow you to make workload assumptions based on your schedule and time allocation capabilities, who else within your organization may have to assist, and, if integrating with such features as the import of claims, being able to conceptualize the external organizational tasking that will be required to bring the implementation to a successful end on-time.

Finally, a good question to understand is how much time you and/or your staff will have to support the program via the technology and what items the vendor sets as those falling within their role and which fall to the customer. For example, are Levels 1, 2, and 3 help desk support the full responsibility of the vendor; does the vendor’s account manager become involved in the daily needs like setting and launching challenges, setting up and helping manage the integration of scheduling biometric screenings, etc.?

V.  Ongoing Measurement, Feedback, and Improvement

The last component to consider is that your program and strategy will always be evolving in order to improve performance, member experience, and alignment with your corporate goals. The configuration set in place through the technology at the inception of the program won’t remain the same in following performance years.  These needed changes will be based on measurements related to member performance.  This leads to an important question during the vetting phase that ensures the vendor is capable of capturing and reporting on metrics/drivers for you to analyze that show both featured successes, as well as, those that may reflect underperformance.  A subset of this metrics question is how easy is it to change metrics as needed in the future and what sort of access and ease you as the plan administrator have in accessing them either through direct extracts or reports coming out of the technology.  Routine review of effectiveness as compared to goals and the incorporation of multi-stakeholder feedback to refine the program over time are necessary to optimize performance and success.  You want to ensure the vendor’s solution is flexible to meet your near- and long-term needs, while assessing any potential charges associated with those change related needs.

Challenged in Creating Your Wellness ROI?

the calculation of a true ROI

Introduction

Have you been challenged to produce a wellness Return on Investment (ROI); or, has a vendor produced a generic one that didn’t meet or was irrelevant to your expectations? The assumptions related to calculating ROI or Value of Investment (VOI) for health and wellness programs in the workplace have been generally flawed for several years now.  Take into consideration a variety of research studies that have emerged over the last eight years, either touting the value of wellness programs (Harvard Business Review, “What’s The Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?”, 2010) or, conversely, those that have brought some hardline challenges (Rand, “Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money”, 2014).  Though the findings vary widely, there is a common theme that has emerged—individualizing your strategy, plan, and metrics are critical factors in delivering and measuring the success of your health and wellness program.

Focus

This is a key difference because the prevailing approach to calculating ROI/ROV has been to use evidence gained through research studies or, similarly, from what consultants and carriers have collected at their book-of-business levels. Unique data collection and analysis has been further impeded by the accompanying approach of mass-program-design driven through various vendor technologies, which do not account for differences in business goals/objectives, cultural distinctions, and a host of other nuanced requirements to build program strategy and tactics that reflect the uniqueness of each plan sponsor. To have a wellness program that functions and achieves value for your organization, it has to be 100% of your making; and that is where the problem comes in.

Generic data cannot not be construed in any way to approximate a return on each particular customer’s investment because of several contributing factors. In order to have any meaningful determination, the data has to come from your sources, not those of others.

Next, comes an entire discussion about your overall corporate wellness plan design —why do you want to offer the program; and what type do you have (because that is going to have a major bearing on the type(s) of data that you need and/or are able to collect)? Plan designs fall within three categories:

1) “Nice to have”, which allows organizations to compete for top employer lists and awards while also serving as a recruitment tool and morale-booster for employees;

2) Wellbeing/voluntary participation, which provides a modest level of accountability and focus on performance;

3) Outcome/Results driven, which provides the highest degree of engagement, focus on outcomes, and metrics collection for evaluation with the intent of risk mitigation.

With this in perspective–have you set goals and objectives for your wellness program; what are the programs that you want to offer based on the above strategy; how long have these been in place and what is the culture of health and wellbeing within your organization? Based on those answers, have you mapped a path for data collection and maturation; etc.? Consider this analogy, which captures the approach many individuals and organizations have to health and wellness—Simply stated, do you want to ride a tour bus and be driven to your destinations; or, do you want to be the driver and take charge of where you go?

Yes, there are a lot of variables to consider in formulating ROI; but, that shows the complexity of the question and why a valid result can’t be easily determined. In short, no one carrier or consultant can provide you with a definitive figure that will be relevant to your results until your data collection methodology has reached maturity.  “How does that happen,” you may ask?  The answer is, “Through a series of steps.”

Step One—You need to plan. Do you have a true strategic, multi-year plan for your wellness program?  If you had to pause for even a second before responding to that question, the answer is likely no.  Planning involves the involvement of multiple stakeholder groups within your organization, from the C-Suite to those who will be your day-to-day champions, as supported by the Harvard Business Review article, “Meet the Programs That Save Companies Money”, 2016.  These individuals need to provide input on what is needed for the program to be a success from each of their vantage points.  These expressed needs have to be synthesized into goals and distilled into a multi-year plan.  This will allow you to structure your data collection in a consistent manner.  That leads us to our next step.

Step Two—You need to measure, as supported by the Optum/NBGH whitepaper, “Beyond ROI: Building an Employee Wellness Value on Investment”, 2015.  Typically, there are two main data segments that can be viewed, data collected from surveys and data collected from member participation (HRA, biometrics, etc.) and claims.  Surveys will gather the qualitative components you want to measure from a member process satisfaction perspective, along with some self-reported outcomes data, e.g. presenteeism, absenteeism, general health and wellbeing improvements, etc.   Member participation and claims present the most meaningful quantitative data to support your wellness goals, as this is where the ultimate efficacy of a health and wellness program will be proven—investing on the “front end” should drive down costs through better health and wellbeing.  You will need to ensure you have measured appropriate baselines for trending comparisons that match to the parameter of each wellness plan.  You should have a baseline that begins at the inception of your program—the claims before you started, as well as, any self-reported data.  In order for this step to work properly, you will need to ensure that the wellness vendor you have chosen has the capacity to fully deliver on your plan design

Step Three—You need to review and adjust. While an annual analysis of collected data provides a natural review touchpoint, you should be reviewing data on a quarterly or monthly basis so that necessary adjustments and course-corrections can be made in a more immediate format. Not only can the program be adjusted based on the data, e.g. having program features that are correctly aligned to your strategic plan, it also provides you with the ability to determine whether you are collecting the correct data or data in the correct way.

Conclusion

With all three steps in perspective, you will most likely need at least a three year timeline over which to collect and measure data. If you haven’t had time to comply with this approach, then, your data hasn’t reached a level of maturity necessary to accurately and individually measure your performance benchmarks.  In closing, the calculation of a true ROI/ROV isn’t something that can be projected until your data is collected and analyzed.  Anyone providing forecasts to the contrary is doing you and your wellness program a huge disservice.

Citations

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/real-roi-wellness.aspx
https://hbr.org/2010/12/whats-the-hard-return-on-employee-wellness-programs
https://hbr.org/2016/04/meet-the-wellness-programs-that-save-companies-money
https://www.optum.com/content/dam/optum3/optum/en/resources/white-papers/Beyond_ROI_health-wellness-investment.pdf