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3 keys to creating an employee-centric wellness plan

Interesting read by Rae Shanahan highlighting how technology can be incorporated into your wellness plan. See the full article below.

Original Post from BenefitsPro.com on July 14, 2016

As smartphones become more entrenched in our daily lives, the wellness technology industry has exploded to more than $8 billion, driven largely by wearable devices and more than 160,000 wellness-relatedmobile apps.

Employers are capitalizing on the tech advances, making workplace wellness programs more digital, social, and connected.

Particularly as more mobile-focused millennials enter the workforce, companies are expanding web-based competitions and incentives for getting physically healthy.

Programs that allow employees to track FitBit data and awarding prizes for workers with the highest monthly step totals are becoming much more common. Even savvier companies are tying wellness to their overall benefits offerings, offering employees the chance to compete for an extra vacation day by reducing their body fat percentage.

Wellness plans encourage employees to live healthier, happier lifestyles. With perks like these, sign us up.

While these incentivized programs are developed with the best of intentions to encourage employees toward better health habits, the unintended consequence is backlash from employees who are wary of revealing personal health data — especially on the internet.

Also, those employees who find themselves at the bottom of the online leaderboard may feel discouraged and demoralized, the opposite of an employer’s objective. Moreover, there is a concern that incentivized wellness programs tend to penalize those who don’t participate or are less successful.

Obviously, employers don’t want to disregard employees who don’t feel comfortable sharing sensitive health information. If employees don’t feel comfortable sharing these personal details with their employer, they should still have the opportunity to chase the incentives, and ultimately benefit from the wellness program.

Keeping all employees in mind, there are three keys to creating successful, employee-centric wellness programs that increase engagement while respecting privacy concerns.

Survey

A simple but effective first step is to survey employees on their thoughts and concerns around wellness programs. Providing employees a platform to voice their opinions allows employees to feel heard and for employers to empathize with their workforce while developing wellness programs. This step conveys the care and effort behind creating employee-centric programs that give everyone the opportunity to participate.

Accommodate

According to Businessolver’s Workplace Empathy Monitor, 1 in 3 employees would switch companies for equal pay if the other employer was more empathetic. The research reveals that embedding empathy in the workplace operations, such as wellness programs, is a key factor aspect of building trust and loyalty with employees.

At the end of the day, workplace wellness programs are designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle — not win points or prizes — and it’s important to keep that end goal in mind.

For example, rather than a competition to lower employee body weight or BMI, employers can instead offer employees a free yoga class once a week. This allows employees to participate in a healthy activity while connecting with colleagues, without having to worry about revealing personal and private information.

Being flexible with wellness programs is an empathetic behavior that broadens the circle of those wanting to participate, maintains the end goal of improving health, and ultimately benefits a company in recruiting and retention.

Communicate

Of course, the most fun, effective, and empathetic program does no good if employees don’t know about it and aren’t engaged.

So, the most beneficial step employers can take in creating a wellness program is effectively communicating with all employees that the program is open, what is necessary to participate, and keeping feedback channels open.

Make sure employees are completely briefed — maybe develop and share one-pagers for employees to quickly reference. Also, it’s imperative to provide an onsite contact who can be a champion for the program and answer any employee questions or concerns. With this, trust is built between employers and employees, and a wellness program has a stronger chance of succeeding right from the start.

Read original article here: http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/07/14/3-keys-to-creating-an-employee-centric-wellness-pl?ref=hp-in-depth&page_all=1

Source:

Shanahan, R. (2016, July 14). 3 keys to creating an employee-centric wellness plan [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/07/14/3-keys-to-creating-an-employee-centric-wellness-pl?ref=hp-in-depth&page_all=1