For years, employers have been trying to find the magic formula for a successful employee wellness program. Some are doing a better job than others, and a recent white paper from Optum and the National Business Group on Health took a look at what those companies are doing right. They identified 137 companies with a self-reported established “culture of health,” (CoH) as well as 44 that did not.
A culture of health will look different at different companies depending on each one’s structure, values and other factors, but for the purposes of the survey, it was more broadly defined as “a work environment where employees have resources, tools and a support system that empowers and motivates them to take responsibility for their own health.”
The results identified five key areas where companies with an established CoH differ from their counterparts:
- Strategy: Seventy two percent of CoH companies recognize wellness as important to their overall business strategy vs. just 11 percent of non-CoH companies. They realize that it’s not about the return on investment, either–60 percent saying they offer wellness programs to stay competitive when attracting and retaining employees, versus just 14 percent of those companies with no identified culture of health. Moreover, 66 percent of CoH employers believe such programs foster employee productivity compared to just 18 percent of their counterparts.
- Program offerings: CoH employers feel their employees’ well-being is addressed on multiple levels, including physical, social, financial and behavioral. They’re implementing changes to the work environment, such as standing desks and healthy food options, and 61 percent plan to increase their wellness budget over the next three years.
- Engagement technology: CoH employers are driving engagement with digital technologies such as social networks, mobile messaging, online competitions and activity trackers. While 95 percent of CoH employers take advantage of these tools, just 55 percent of non-CoH companies do.
- Incentives: Nearly all CoH employers offer incentives and invest heavily in rewards. A whopping 99 percent offer incentives, averaging $585 per year. Their counterparts also see the benefit of incentives, though not as strongly: 89 percent offer an average incentive of $485 per year.
- Measures of success: CoH employers believe their programs have made employees more confident in their health care navigation skills (64 percent vs. 11 percent of non-CoH companies) and encourage them to take more control of their overall well-being.
Finally, the researchers asked employers what factors contribute to achieving a culture of success. Primary drivers included effective communication with employees about programs and offering programs to maintain or improve employee morale. Secondary drivers included things such as tracking ROI, buy-in from management, strategic planning and dedicated staff.