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For Employers, the Answer to Employee Well-Being Is “Get Personal”

For today’s employees, well-being programs are more important than ever. And the key to a successful workplace well-being program is personalization.

Until recently, job benefits were thought of mainly in terms of money and health insurance. The concept of an employer concerned with employees’ sense of “well-being” was a foreign one.

Things have changed; the average employee now spends 38 percent of each weekday at work, which translates to an average of 46 hours a week. With so much time at work, well-being programs are part of a desirable corporate culture. Having a highly productive workforce, and attracting and retaining top talent, requires a culture of caring — a culture that includes all aspects of well-being: physical, social, emotional, and financial health.

Despite the importance of these programs, only about two-thirds of employees at companies offering well-being programs take advantage of them — and one in 10 don’t even know whether their employer offers one at all. If you want employees to be high performers, and you intend to hire — and keep — great people, you can’t just create a wellness program, you need to motivate employees to be truly engaged in it. The best way to accomplish that is through customization and personalization. And the best way to accomplish that is with a combination of human interaction and technology.

Cutting through the noise

Modern society is awash in communications — texts and tweets, emails and voicemails. “We have so many messages coming at us that if they’re not highly personalized and very specific to us, it really will becomes more noise,” said Heather Provino, M.S., CEO of Provant. “For example, if an employer provides biometric screenings, at the time of the screening, the employee might say ‛Gosh, I didn’t know I was pre-diabetic or I have high blood pressure’ and that’s great for a short while. Then they forget their health risk and fall back into unhealthy habits. But if you can send them digital reminders saying ‛Thanks for joining us! We’ve calculated this would be the best nutrition program for you, ’ followed by ‛If you click here and let us know your preferences, we’ll further refine that programming,’ then it’s personally valuable information, and you can get real engagement.”

Blending human interaction and technology is key

Provino says that the best way to ensure your well-being programs are effective, engaging and personalized is to combine the human factor with an integrated “hub” of technologies.

“How many of us actually open our enrollment packets and actually read through the whole thing?” Provino said. “The key is to offer streamlined, personalized ‛nudges’ in small bites and meaningful individual data, using mobile and digital platforms, and also have the human component to provide accompanying support and guidance.”

These goals can be achieved with a combination of personalized health risk information provided by technology and one-to-one coaching in face-to-face or digital sessions talking about how ready the person is to make changes, how to adopt new healthy behaviors, and how to overcome obstacles,

Getting there

“Employers are often focused on proving their return on investment (ROI),” Provino said. “ROI is important, and a form of ROI should include the value earned for caring about our employees.” She cites the recent decision in France to limit after-hours contact as evidence that employee well-being is increasingly important in society.

Provino acknowledges that creating personalized, effective well-being programs isn’t simple. “Even Fortune 50 companies,” she notes, “find this challenging, because setting up a well-being program means tying together the multiple benefits of the organization to increase engagement.Provant was founded to offer comprehensive solutions for employee well-being programs for health and finance, making it easier for companies to create the culture of caring this generation of workers demands.

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