Wellness is a living, breathing entity that does not have a finish line, but instead should be viewed as a journey. A common misconception with corporate wellness is that once a plan is established, it should never again be revised. What seems to be the most difficult part for many in the industry to accept is that what is being done today can, and likely will be, obsolete tomorrow. The true courage of a wellness champion, and the program they are owning, is to reassess constantly, ensuring their program is on the cutting edge and getting the most value from the resources invested.
One of the first lessons that I was taught by our CEO, Ed Buckley, was to think of the individuals involved in a wellness program as consumers. He eloquently relates employee benefits to technology and the rapid changes that occur, which would be akin to providing Blackberry’s as work phones when, let’s be real... we would all prefer an up-to-date smartphone.
Wellness programs need a system in place to function and succeed in day-to-day operations, all while thriving in the long term journey. There is no room for complacency when in today’s world we have newer, better tech options popping up seemingly every day. Listening to employees, discovering trends early on, and not being afraid to challenge the status quo can go a long way in creating the value that is so often sought after.
In an annual survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson, it was found that 75% of employees reported that they are more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefit program. It is clear that individual consumers truly care about what programs are in place and how they are impacted by them. With that, I have laid out five questions for wellness directors to ask themselves when determining the value of wellness programs:
Are the decisions being made data-driven and are the correct metrics being assessed?
Using metrics to drive decisions is not a new practice but still seems to be lacking in adoption. There are too many programs that are lagging behind useful methods and trends, not collecting data and simply checking the box on wellness, hoping that nobody asks questions. This is what I call a ‘blind investment’. Data driven results should be an area of pride for your wellness program and it should not require pulling teeth to obtain that valuable information.
We see things differently at Peerfit when it comes to data transparency. It is in our DNA to go beyond assessing the number of program sign-ups and calling it a day. We dive deeper and make decisions based on month over month utilization and we share it openly. We see the value in providing monthly reporting not because it is asked of us but because that is the only way to truly understand the health of the wellness program.
Are you getting positive (or any) feedback from employees consistently?
Clear communication channels are a must. Genuinely considering feedback from your workforce should be a constant when in assessment (or reassessment) mode. After all, these individuals make up the population that you are trying to impact in a positive way, so leveling with them can go a long way for relatability and the ultimate success of your program.
If the feedback coming in is not very exciting, then you can probably guess that the program is not speaking to the customization that individuals these days are used to.
Is your culture more rooted in wellness than it was a year ago?
In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of wellbeing strategy but the hardest to assess. Going back to the importance of feedback, I must admit that it helps to read between the data lines a bit as not everything tied to success in wellness can be surrounded by hard numbers.
If you are not doing everything in your power to constantly excite employees for the most attractive benefits, then they will get bored faster than you can say health risk assessment. CultureIQ found that 56% of employers say they are unable to actively manage culture because they lack leadership support; 45% say they don’t have enough time or resources. The measurements are only the beginning; it’s the intervention and buy-in of a company-wide culture shift that makes a difference. When the connection is made to the program being offered, you can be sure to see that your culture will leave those outside your organization in awe (jealous, much?).
Did you achieve your goals and do these goals still make sense?
We all need something to shoot for and it is a liberating experience to have our sights clearly set on specific goals and achieving them. Putting S.M.A.R.T. goals in place will make milestones more meaningful and easier to assess on a consistent basis.
It is important to remember that what was put in place last year might have driven great results, but there is always room for improvement in the now. Think bigger and don’t be afraid to lay out new, improved goals that will take your program even further.
Are your employees engaged and are they happy with their benefit?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a survey as much as the next guy, but survey’s do not always tell the whole story. The real happiness comes from the cultural changes aligning with the goals that are put in place, which ultimately get the buzz going around the office. EmployeeChannel found that only 16% of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” by employers. Let’s change that.
It’s the excitement and joy that employees have around the water cooler, feeling empowered to be a part of a bigger movement which should put a smile ear to ear on a wellness champions face.
All of these questions, although important individually, should be considered together. They work off of each other and provide a broader view of the value that is being added to employees’ lives on a daily basis. After all, we are in this journey of healthier, happier employees together. It’s about time that we listen to each other openly, understand that culture drives all and be honest with ourselves that we are in constant need of reassessing our wellness programs.