2021: The Year of the Wellbeing Program

Employers have a sense of urgency around deploying or revamping employee wellbeing programs, in large part because of the pandemic. According to a recent survey of HR professionals across several industries, sixty-four percent of employers said that the pandemic has significantly reduced the overall wellbeing of their workforce. And, only 29% of employers believe that their wellbeing programs have been effective in supporting employees during the pandemic.

However, employers do still have confidence in wellbeing programs, especially those who already had wellbeing programs in place. Employers who had a mature wellbeing program in place during the pandemic found that these initiatives had positive outcomes for their employees. Of employers with wellbeing programs in force, 52% found that they improved employee experience and 49% found that they improved employee retention. In addition, 48% reported greater employee engagement and 43% reported higher employee performance. At a time when most employers were struggling to engage and keep their workforce happy, employee wellbeing programs proved to have helped with these challenges.

What Wellbeing Leaders Do Right

Companies with mature wellbeing programs are considered “wellbeing leaders” and provide a more effective approach to implementing wellbeing programs when compared to employers with less mature programs, also known as “wellbeing laggards.” Wellbeing leaders take a holistic approach to employee wellbeing and are differentiated by the following:

  • Offering initiatives that touch on the main pillars of wellbeing: physical, mental, financial, social and workplace environment/safety.
  • Acting proactively instead of reactively during the pandemic.
  • Maintaining fewer stressors in the workplace.
  • Placing emphasis on mental health and resources.
  • Planning to expand and continue to grow wellbeing initiatives.

Other elements that differentiate wellbeing leaders are the programs that they offer employees to promote physical health. Wellbeing leaders offer health coaching (58%), biometric screening (45%) and chronic disease management programs (41%) almost twice as much as their counterparts. These programs have helped to improve employee engagement, retention, performance and overall employee experience.

Wellbeing programs have long been a part of most employers’ retention and engagement strategies. While these wellbeing programs have traditionally focused on physical and mental health, the types of wellbeing that employers are emphasizing have started to expand, especially in response to the pandemic. Seventy-three percent of employers are looking to grow wellbeing initiatives that will improve workplace environment and safety. These initiatives include social distancing, proper workplace sanitization and vaccinations. Another area of expanded focus includes financial health. Sixty-six percent are looking to enhance financial initiatives as they saw many employees struggle during the pandemic. Employers are providing more resources and education around retirement savings, budgeting and managing healthcare costs.

How Health Systems Can Help Employers Launch Effective Wellbeing Programs

Whether employers have mature wellbeing programs in place or are just starting to consider them, they recognize the need to enhance and grow their wellbeing initiatives in order to better support employees. Hospitals and health systems play an important role in helping employer groups launch wellbeing programs to their workforce. Health systems have the providers, products and resources to help employers offer meaningful and successful programs. The role that health systems play has intensified as a result of the pandemic as health systems best understand workplace health and safety, including the role of vaccines in getting employees back to work.

As health systems partner with employers to grow wellbeing programs, it’s important to have the right tools in place to ensure these initiatives are successful. Applied Health Analytics offers solutions that can help health systems and employers partner to launch effective wellbeing programs. By collaborating with Applied Health Analytics, health systems can offer the following to employers to help them launch and expand wellbeing programs:

  • A holistic approach to wellbeing: Health systems should work with employers to create wellbeing programs that go beyond just physical health and address other areas of wellbeing, such as mental and financial health. With Applied Health Analytics’ bIQ™ Population Health Management platform, health systems can help employers build programs that focus on overall wellbeing and include the following proven tactics:
    • Health Risk Assessments: HRAs go beyond uncovering an employee’s medical history and demographic data; they also identify risk factors for emotional and financial health, and identify modifiable behaviors. This allows employers to offer specific resources to employees that have high risk scores in certain areas. The bIQ platform can automatically deploy resources to an individual depending on their scores, all without disclosing their identifiable information to the employer. A high-risk financial score may trigger an invitation to a retirement planning seminar or a high-risk stress score may send link to an educational video about stress management.
    • Biometric Screening: Biometric data can show areas in which an employee is considered high-risk or needs improvement. When the data shows high-risk areas, it enables the employer to provide dedicated resources to the employee, including chronic condition management programs and scheduling visits with a provider. With biometric screening, employers can identify high-risk individuals and deploy appropriate interventions to help improve health and manage health benefit expense. The bMetrix™ Biometric Screening application makes it easy for clinicians to schedule, manage and report biometric data which is automatically uploaded to the bIQ platform.
    • Health Coaching: One-on-one interaction between a participating employee and a health system clinician has proven to drive member engagement and promote positive outcomes. As health coaches intervene to manage goals, report progress, record patient-history and encourage incentive attainment, hospitals and health systems advance the impact of employer wellbeing programs by aligning health professional resources with the needs of an individual.  Coaching sessions are scheduled and reported within the bIQ platform. In addition, virtual coaching sessions are offered for remote employees or for when face-to-face sessions are not an option.
  • An emphasis on workplace health and safety: Health systems can help employers prepare to bring employees back to work by ensuring they have proper COVID-19 screening processes; work spaces that follow distancing and sanitization protocols; and even access to an on-site provider or nurse triage line to answer questions and address health issues. The case study, How COVID-19 Accelerated Health System and Employer Partnerships, details some of the efforts health systems have undertaken to help local employers with their return-to-work initiatives. A major area in which health systems can support employer wellbeing initiatives is through COVID-19 vaccinations. Many employers are eager to have employees vaccinated in order to have them return them to the workplace. Health systems can provide onsite vaccination events and manage the tracking and reporting of COVID-19 vaccination data. bMetrix also provides COVID-19 vaccine management, allowing health systems to easily deploy vaccination events, and track and report vaccination data to employers, EMRs and state registries. bMetrix allows for employees to sign-up for vaccination events via eligibility file or emailed registration link, or on-site at check-in. Health systems can help employers looking to enhance the wellbeing of their workplace environment by taking a proactive approach in providing a safe and healthy workspace.

Employers are recognizing the importance of employee wellbeing programs and hospitals and health systems can play a significant role in helping them launch these initiatives. By partnering with Applied Health Analytics, health systems will have access to the technology solutions to provide robust wellbeing data that can be easily accessed and provided in customized employer health portals. Contact Applied Health Analytics to learn more about helping employers launch wellbeing initiatives and to schedule a demo of the company’s software solutions.