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Employee Wellbeing

A Better Understanding of Employee Engagement and Benefits

Photo: Courtesy of Damian Zaleski

Henry Albrecht

CEO, Limeade

What do you feel is the biggest healthcare challenge facing employers right now?

Strategies that feel more like punishments than support. Employers want their people to be healthy — to lower health costs and improve performance, ideally because they genuinely care about their people. But benefits designers and wellness companies have delivered programs without proper connection to business goals and company culture. This lack of context stifles inspiration and employee commitment. So programs that should feel like fun, strategic, social and immersive job and life support feel like hoops employees have to jump through.

What can be done to make employees more aware of benefits offered by employers?

I think this is actually the wrong question. It’s trendy now to try to get more people to the slew of benefits companies have bought for them, that hardly anyone uses. And there is value in that, to some extent.

But I’d rather start with first principles. What are we trying to accomplish as a business? What’s our purpose? How do we measure success? Then the key question is: Does every single employee program, communication and technology reinforce this? Do we have real-time feedback on how we’re doing towards that? After that, just take all the lessons of modern marketing — social, digital, personal, big-data-driven — and apply them.

In your experience, what benefits do employees find most valuable?

Ask 100 employees and you’ll get 100 answers. At Limeade, we’ve actually done this. What a recent grad wants from his or her benefits is different from a new mom or someone approaching retirement. There are regional, cultural and highly personal factors that make “choice” the most important benefit of all.

Beyond that, the most powerful benefits are the universal, “unofficial” ones that reinforce culture. For example, a positive environment with networks of supportive peers. Having a manager that cares about you is one of the most significant work benefits anyone can have.

We know 78 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. When employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged at work.

Which industry trend are you most excited about as we move into 2018? I’m most excited to see employee well-being elevated far beyond traditional wellness. We can no longer ignore the fact that well-being is crucial to employee engagement and all of the business results an engaged workforce drives. This means elevating discussions that used to take place only in HR and benefits into the C-suite. It’s converging industries focused on employees, with the tech leaders with established points of view emerging as the winners.


Dr. Ann D. Clark

CEO and Founder, ACI Specialty Benefits

What do you feel is the biggest healthcare challenge facing employers right now?

One of the biggest, and least talked about, health care challenges facing employers is mental health. With millennials reporting high rates of depression, the opioid addiction crisis and mounting evidence that stress and depression are linked to major physical health risks, employers need to look beyond traditional insurance to expand total well-being benefits and improve employee health.

A strong, freestanding employee assistance program (EAP) with total emotional wellness benefits, financial wellness support, management training to address mental health issues and addiction and substance abuse support services is an effective tool to help employees thrive. Additionally, many best places to work are offering a variety of creative health benefits including meditation rooms, organic meal preparation by professional chefs, chair massages, onsite yoga and telehealth to support employees in achieving total well-being and making self-care a priority. 

What can be done to make employees more aware of benefits offered by employers?

The new workforce demands new benefits communication strategies. Instead of leaving benefits buried in handbooks, employers need to dramatically reimagine benefits engagement. From video marketing to social media and mobile apps, employers need to partner with benefits providers that offer modern marketing and on-demand access to drive benefits awareness, promote ongoing utilization and deliver the strongest return on investment. 

ACI Specialty Benefits worked with one Fortune 500 company with over 100 locations nationwide that wanted to reinvigorate their benefit program. As part of the engagement strategy, ACI produced a new benefits website that allowed users to submit direct requests for services, live chat with ACI specialists and search for a wide range of resources. Targeted email announcements, trainings and video orientations, social media posts and benefits information across internal company websites led to a 166 percent increase in users accessing services from the previous year, and 20-25 percent increased benefits utilization.

Staff, [email protected]

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