Today’s workforce is moremulti-generational than ever, requiring HR leaders to use newcommunication tools, digital wellness platforms, and programpersonalization to improve wellness program participation and drivechange. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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As more millennials enter the workforce, engaging increasinglydiverse employee-base requires a tech-savvy approach, using newcommunication tools and digital options to connect with workers.This is especially true for employers looking to achieve gains fromtheir wellness program, helping to reduce health carecosts and invest in the long-term health and well-being of theiremployees.

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To help drive participation, HR leaders should embrace the useof technology to engage employees, especially millennials, whoutilize technology to its fullest extent and rely on devices andsocial channels to stay connected. Whiletraditional channels are still needed to communicate with theworkforce, embracing new technology trends can help to extend thelife of a wellness program beyond the workplace to fully connectwith employees.

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Related: 5 technology and data trends affecting employeebenefits

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Incorporating digital tools into a wellness program doesn’trequire a massive overhaul of the offering or benefits; it can beas simple as utilizing existing technology to connect withemployees through channels they’re already using. Below are a fewways HR leaders and managers can harness the power of technology toengage employees in wellness programs.

Fire up the WiFi

HR leaders can harness the power of email marketing campaigns to drive action fromemployees, much the same way sales teams use them to captureprospective leads. Use a series of email messages across severalweeks, focusing on one key topic in each message. Messages shouldbe short and to the point. Use subject lines that captureattention, and include a call to action for employees to take part.By viewing employees as a customer and using email strategies toconnect with them, leaders can help power positive results.

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Social media is a fun way for HR leaders to connect withemployees through channels they’re already using. LinkedIn andFacebook offer pages and profiles that allow leaders to connectwith their employees, creating a common space to provideencouragement and interaction in group wellness programs. It alsoallows employees to connect with one another and share photos andposts for recognition, create motivation for teams and individuals,and support a strong company culture. We allow individuals to sharetheir accomplishments on their own Facebook wall with their widernetwork of friends to create greater support and motivation.

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It’s important that any communication strategy is optimized formobile use as more employees turn to their phones forcommunication. Employers can use email, social posts and textmessaging as supporting communications to engage employees inupcoming health challenges or health awareness holidays. Employeesalso may need to access critical wellness information via phones,so any websites or web pages should be mobile-friendly. Beforeimplementing any digtal communication, be sure these types ofchannels are in compliance with your organization’s informationsafety and security regulations.

Strap on your app

Wearables are not new technology, but they continue to getbetter at tracking users’ health statistics, offering vital info onparticipants’ health. Many well-being programs include fitness trackers for participants, giving theman active role in monitoring their performance. More advancedprograms offer multiple device integration to allow users greaterchoice in participation with their preferred wearable, simplifyingthe user experience and reducing the need for multiple systems.

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HR leaders can help to drive employee participation in wellnessprograms by promoting connectivity with wearables. We helped toimplement a “Million Steps Challenge” for a client in an effort tocreate awareness of the program. This company-wide challenge saw anincreased utilization of fitness trackers, more employeeparticipation in the wellness program, and an engaged workforceacross all segments.

Personalized programs

Customization is key to create increased engagement amongemployees, with offerings that are specific to their wants andneeds. HR leaders should evaluate how wellness program componentscan be personalized to deliver specific support to employees.Digital elements can help to create a more tailored experience,such as video tutorials about proper nutrition and online quizzesto measure comprehension. Using site analytics and aggregatedresults dashboards, program leaders can capture a greater view ofparticipation and the program elements that drive the greatestengagement.

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The use of virtual reality (VR) applications has expanded intowellness. Many companies are turning to this new application toengage users in their health, helping to reduce cravings in tobaccocessation programs. StayWell launched a VR meditation app to helpusers practice mindful meditation to reduce stress. Users can turnto the VR application instead of unhealthy habits that may onlyprovide temporary relief. Others are using VR apps to engage olderadults in cognitive skills. These new tools can be used with amobile phone, making it easily accessible for employees.

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Using digital tools to engage employees in wellness programsprovides a rich field of useful data that can be used to refine andenhance programs. As company leaders and HR managers look atenhancing their wellness offerings, the data output from thesedigital tools yield important information on what users find mosthelpful, and how and when they best interact with the program. Thisallows for a more tailored program moving forward and investmentinto elements that yield the greatest outcomes.

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Wellness programs continue to advance to meet the new ways inwhich employees work and live, and HR leaders can take advantage ofthese new options to help engage their workforce in their health.Many of the advancements can help employees take a more active rolein their health beyond the workplace. HR leaders should be sure toconsult with their wellness provider to understand the full slateof options available to them.

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Pearce FlemingPearceFleming is president of StayWell,a health care innovation organization. Pearce oversees operations,implementation, client service and product management across all ofStayWell’s solutions and markets. He has more than 20 years ofhealth care industry experience, and works with employers, healthsystems and payers to manage population health. 


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