Friday, June 16, 2017

Four Answers for Clients Looking to Launch a Budget-Friendly, Activity Tracking Program


Wearables are a fast-growing trend, with over 75 million devices expected to be in use in the workplace by 2020, according to a recent report released by Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO).

And they are popular for good reason. A physical activity tracking program with wearables is a great way to truly engage employees in healthy behavior, while also providing verifiable results back to the organization. (read more about the benefits of wearables here>)

But when clients want to add more physical activity tracking to their wellness program it can be tricky. Employers are often left asking, “How can we get the budget to include wearables?”

As their broker, you can demonstrate your value and expertise with these four answers:

1) Let’s look at reallocation of your current funds.


Our experience has brought us to countless conversations with employers that annually spend money on health risk assessments, biometric screenings, gym reimbursements and health coaching. While each offers its own benefit, none of them beat the accountability that can come through daily activity tracking.

Suggest redirecting these dollars towards an activity tracker credit, plus integrating these devices with a platform that provides an engaging experience and aggregate results. Then come back a year or so later and measure the change in Biometric results.


2) Let’s find discounted options that limit distribution hassle.


The Wellness Outlet is an on-line fitness tracking device store with no set up fee and no minimum purchase volumes. There are a wide variety of popular Fitbit and Garmin options available, starting at $25. It makes it easy to offer discounted devices to employees with no employer subsidy required.

However, if your employer wants to put dollars in, The Wellness Outlet has an easy feature to put company dollars towards an employee’s purchase. It also saves money by saving administrator’s hassle because devices are shipped directly to the employee’s home. In case you didn’t find the funds to support a company subsidy through re-allocation, there may be other ways.


3) Your current or future Insurance Carrier may be an ally.


Often, carriers have discretionary dollars banked to acquire new business. Get creative and negotiate these discretionary dollars to benefit your client’s wellness objectives, with a long-term plan that goes beyond this year’s premiums.

In certain markets, we continue to see carriers such as Anthem, UHC, Cigna and Aetna, provide employers with credits that can help wellness programs get a jumpstart. If you are bringing a program that not only puts fitness trackers in their hands, but displays persistent utilization through an annual platform, you’re more likely to gain support. Not only that, but you will be setting yourself apart as a thought leader, only furthering your leverage as a broker.


4) There is an option to tie premium contributions to wellness participation and engagement.


To do this, the employer simply needs to create two tiers of contributions, one tier for non-participants and one tier for those participating. The variance between the tiers, calculated to an annual amount, then becomes your carrot.

For example, let’s say an employer wants to contribute $300 more per year towards the cost of a single plan for those that engage in the wellness plan. That would mean in monthly terms, an employee could gain an additional $25 towards the cost of their insurance premiums.

To participate, employees would be asked to purchase an activity tracker. If an employee’s best means of obtaining these premium dollars is through activity tracking, then it becomes simple math for them. If they buy a device, they get more.

Of course, to make this easier to administer and more engaging for employees, an annual platform is necessary. The data from devices needs to be fed into a system that aggregates it and assigns point values. The point values then are attached to the separate tiers. Generally, the split of employees into tiers allows you to use your budget differently. In other words, you can then have more dollars funnel to the engaged, with less going to the disengaged.


Overall, activity tracking programs can truly have a positive impact on your clients’ health. And by considering some of these out of the box solutions you can help offer unique value to new and existing customers.



We have been integrating action based wellness solutions into benefit design for the past 10 years. If you would like to learn more about any of these budget neutral approaches feel free to reach out at info@myinertia.com or scheduling an appointment online with our team here. 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our Top Fitness Tracker Picks

In order to provide the best service possible to our clients, we are constantly testing out the latest and greatest in wearable fitness trackers. Some of us can be seen with 3+ Fitbit or Garmin devices on at a time, and we often spend our lunch breaks discussing our activity data after a quick walk.

So, what better people to ask for wearable advice than our employees? We asked them what fitness tracker they feel best fits their daily lifestyle and compiled the list below to help you and your employees pick the best options for you:



Psst. Have you heard? We have a new product, The Wellness Outlet, whose sole job is to distribute wearables to your population at discounted prices. If you want to learn about this free value-add, you can schedule a time to connect with one of our team members here.



My workout style:Yoga and Barre fanatic
My favorite feature: Heart rate monitor

I love the Garmin vívosmart HR because the type of workouts I chose to do don’t involve a lot of movement compared to others. Because of the heart rate monitor, I still get credit for being active! I also love how much the screen displays for me – from steps and calories burned to phone notifications and the weather.

You should buy the device if: you love technology and do various workouts that don’t always involve “stepping”.





My workout style: Ex-competitive runner turned recreational soccer player
My favorite feature: Simplicity – clip it on and go, long battery life

I don’t like wearing wrist devices so something that is small and versatile, like the Garmin vívoki, that can clip to the waist or slip in a pocket works well for me. I also don’t want to have to think about the device a lot so the long battery life and easy offload is a big plus. I just need something that will keep me honest and let me know that I’m doing enough activity each day.

You should buy this device if: you want a no-frills, affordable device that isn’t wrist-worn.




My workout style: Fitness class fanatic (Pilates, Strength, Insanity, etc.)
My favorite feature:  Hourly move reminders & goal reached celebration function

I like the Fitbit Alta because it has stylish band options and an easy to use interface. Tap once and you can see all your stats. It does a great job tracking my various workout classes and Tuesday night volleyball games. It’s also great for move reminders. Every hour it buzzes with fun motivational sayings to help you get up and move. It also has a cool celebration notification when I meet my goals. Sounds like a minor detail, but being able to get that instant gratification of meeting a goal is a perfect motivator for me!

You should buy this device if: you are looking for slim, cool looking device great for everyday use.





My workout style: Heinz 57 or Mutt
My favorite feature: Versatility

I’m always on the go and squeeze time in for daily exercise wherever I can. The Garmin vívoactive HR versatility allows me to go from the office, to the gym, out for a run, ride, swim or coaching on the soccer field, all with the same device. The simplicity and versatility of the vivoactive HR fits well with a busy lifestyle.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for simplistic, yet versatile device.




My workout style: I am very much a moderate intensity, walk/hike/bike kind of girl. I have some physical limitations that keep me at a slower pace than I’d like. BUT, the key is to keep on moving, so I do!

My favorite feature: The band. It might sound silly, but the band is very comfortable. I keep it on 24/7, so that really is important. It’s comfortable and un-intrusive. It’s perfect and the best I’ve worn.

I love the Garmin vívofit 3 because it’s simple – I was able to “put it on and go” for the most part. I LOVE that it is waterproof. I don’t ever have to worry about it getting damaged. I love that I don’t have to take it off when swimming, or in the shower, or to charge the battery (because I know I’d forget to put it back on). I’ve only replaced the battery once so far and I’ve had it over 2 years!

You should buy this device if: you need something simple, durable and comfortable to wear and track activity every day!




My workout style: Cardio, Running, Hiking, Biking, Lifting
My favorite feature: Toss up between Water rating and GPS

I really like the durability of all the Garmin Devices. I like the Garmin Forerunner 235 because I can switch between cardio, running, biking, and walking without changing devices, which is awesome. I also never have to worry about getting it wet! I enjoy knowing that the battery will last upwards to 20 days on a single charge.

You should buy this device if: You enjoy running and biking.




My Workout style: Daily walks, with some weekly strength/cardio classes, like Barre.
My favorite feature: Looks like a normal watch

I like the Garmin vívomove because it has activity tracking for steps, miles and sleep but the look of a normal watch. It is sporty enough to wear during my walks and cardio classes but classy enough to wear with a dress. No one even realizes that I have an activity device on. I also really enjoy how low-tech it is as I tend to underutilize all the bells and whistles that can come with the different devices.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for basic and fashionable activity tracking.




My workout style: Unfocused

My favorite feature: Menu navigation is simple

I use steps and time to gauge my wellness goals. However, when I do run or bike I really like to know the distance using GPS so I can plan routes. Navigating and setting the Fitbit Charge 2 for running or biking is easier for me than on my other devices that track the same information.

You should buy this device if: you don't need a lot of options and find other device menus confusing.





My workout style: Cardio Queen, Circuits, & I love to swim 😊
My favorite feature: Waterproof

I love that the all of my notifications from my phone come to my Garmin vívosmart HR, with the ability to see the screen on a sunny day. The built-in heart rate monitor gives you a real time reading of my heart rate at any given time which is a nice function.

You should buy this device if: You are looking for a durable device that gives you real time access to notifications and heart rate.





My workout style: From pumping iron to missing putts
My favorite feature: Golf tracking

The Garmin Approach S20 gives me an excuse to conduct business on the golf course! The GPS golf tracking is awesome and the smart watch keeps me connected in the gym or on the course while also tracking daily activity.

You should buy this device: you enjoy golf and want an all in one solution.




My workout style: Sportsman (hunting, fishing, etc.)
My favorite feature: The illuminated display

The Garmin vivofit 3 is very simple and easy to use. The illuminated screen makes it easy to check the time when I am out in the field or woods in the early mornings and late nights.

You should buy this device if: you are looking for an activity tracker that is very simple and easy to use.





My workout style: Running to stay fit.
My favorite feature: Waterproof

I like my thin, waterproof Garmin vívoactive HR. It tracks so many activities indoors and outside that I don’t need another device. GPS tracking is nice to have too. I like knowing my heartrate 24/7. It’s amazing how quick heartrate goes up and how long it takes to return to normal  after 5 mile run.

You should buy this device if:  you participate different activities and want to be able to track them all with one single device.





My workout style: Run 4 days per week and 2 marathons per year.
My favorite feature:  I like the altimeter on the Garmin fénix 3 HR for a more accurate elevation total over my runs.

The Fenix 3 HR takes the best of all of the Garmin technology and puts it into one watch. I like to do a lot of different activities so the Fenix 3HR is perfect for me to use when I run, climb, bike, swim, and downhill ski.

You should buy this device if: you are active person that loves data.



We hope you enjoyed the list! We have a printable 8 1/2 x 11 version you can download here, and share/distribute as you please.

Every device listed here is available in The Wellness Outlet store, some up to 40% off retail! If you'd like more information on getting your employees access to the store please click here to talk with our wellness representatives.

Or, if you already have access to the store, login here to start shopping!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Advice on Wearables: Our Recent Highlight in the Health Promotion Journal



We are honored to be highlighted in the recent issue of The Art of Health Promotion, Editor’s Desk: The Wearables in Wellness Issue.




The publication went into detail about wearables role in the workplace, and identifies the following promising practices for businesses that have added, or are considering adding, wearables to their own well-being efforts:

  • Give or subsidize devices for employees rather than requiring them to buy their own; 
  • Set goals and encourage employees to meet them and earn incentives; 
  • Involve spouses and domestic partners to increase participation and create a support system outside of the workplace;
  • Use a pilot program to identify ways to improve the effort before expanding to the entire workforce; and 
  • Modify the program from time to time to keep employees engaged. 

This approach is something myInertia strongly believes in.

As Sherry Freeman, myInertia's Director of Wellness Operations and Key Accounts, states in this Art of Health Promotion issue:


“Wearables are a very exciting addition to health and well-being programs. In fact, in the more than 15 years I’ve devoted to helping people improve their health, this is one of the most impactful opportunities that has come my way.

Why?

First, employees want wearables. It is a popular consumer health trend that many employees value.

Second, wearables can provide employers with objective data to make insightful program improvements.

Third, the data are derived from the employee taking ongoing action, which is an important differentiator from the data that come from one-time biometric screenings or other less frequent data collection mechanisms. This ongoing action supports long-term behavior change, which is a key in order to driving a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.

As exciting as wearable technology is, simply delivering the devices to employees and not developing an ongoing engagement strategy will severely limit their impact. My advice is to take the time to:

1. secure leadership buy-in and ongoing support
2. properly communicate and promote the program,
3. pick an incentive strategy that is both sustainable for the organization and meaningful to employees,
4. create ongoing social interactions and programs to keep employees using the devices, and
5. set baseline goals and objectives and plan for how you are going to measure them.

Without this forethought, wearables will likely not drive meaningful results. As referenced earlier in this issue of The Art of Health Promotion, one-third of wearable devices are abandoned after only 6 months of use.

My work with employers has demonstrated time and again that although giving wearables to employees creates initial excitement, that enthusiasm quickly wears off. Those employers who are most successful at driving sustained usage and creating true health improvement do so by creating a wearables strategy focused on the 5 elements listed above.

I love using and understanding how to optimize wearables to improve my own individual health and the health of my client organizations. But I live, eat, and breathe health. The vast majority of the population does not. For them, we need a strong wellness program with a strategic plan and expert execution to achieve the success I’ve seen wearable devices provide for so many employers.”



You can read the full Journal publication here.

Also, if you have any questions, or would like to talk about adding a similar strategy to your wellness program, connect with one of strategists by booking a time using their online calendar here. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Physical Activity Should be the Corner Stone of Your Wellness Program



myInertia is supporting the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. 

During the month of May all our blogs will be geared towards the benefits of activity to employers, employees and the community. To follow along be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.



The benefits are clear. The healthier the employee, the more productive, motivated, and engaged, the workforce, leading to a greater payoff, in both the short and long term, for your organization.

So, as an employer looking to reap those benefits, how do you successfully improve your workforces’ overall health and wellbeing? Do you hire a nutrition counselor? Invest in a life coach hotline? Provide annual biometric screenings at no cost?

While all of these can be effective in their own right, a wellness program primarily focused on establishing regular, moderately intense physical activity will give you the best hard return on your investment.


Here’s why:


It improves your bottom line

A great deal of evidence suggests that employee health and wellness, as achieved through regular physical activity, produces significant financial gains for employers. As just one example of how a comprehensive, strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental, and physical wellbeing can pay off, the Harvard Business Review looked at the multinational giant Johnson and Johnson. The company’s leaders estimate that their wellness programs have cumulatively saved them $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was an impressive $2.71 for every dollar spent.[1]


It helps with retention, productivity and engagement


According to the World Economic Forum, when health and wellness are being promoted, organizations are seen as 2.5 times more likely to be a best performer, 4 times less likely to lose talent within the next year, and 3.5 times more likely to encourage creativity and innovation among employees, who are 8 times more likely to be engaged in what they do.[2]


Direct medical expenses are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what poor employee health actually costs a company. The World Economic Forum estimates that medical payments total less than 40 percent when compared to the productivity losses that organizations suffer from employee absenteeism and "presenteeism"—people who are well enough to show up for work, but not able to perform at full capacity.


Healthy employees are more present, more attentive, more energetic and more focused. Global research conducted by Healthy Companies International over two decades suggests that a "healthy" company is one in which healthy leaders build healthy cultures that inspire healthy people to drive healthy performance.[3]


It’s measurable


As with any initiative, employee wellness programs must lend themselves to measurement in order to assess program progress, success, and failure.

The number of activity tracking devices available today that can wirelessly offload to the internet make measuring physical activity a virtual breeze for consumers and managers alike. In terms of health and fitness level assessments, biometric information such as BMI, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol level, etc… can be used to add data points to the individual fitness puzzle. In this way, employee health assessments can be accurately and objectively made.

It’s all inclusive

Another advantage of physical activity is that it is universal - it can be done practically anywhere, at anytime, in any situation - think the proverbial stairs over elevator and parking in East Bumble examples.

Although the difficulty of each employee’s wellness program should be tailored to their individual fitness level and risk factors to ensure the greatest chance for success, the beauty of a “group” program is that it can be set up to encourage teamwork, camaraderie, and friendly competition, which can in turn lead to increased office creativity and productivity.

It’s fun

There is a wide variety of physical activity program options available that can help keep employees interested and motivated to stick with it and improve their health. If using wearables, employees can enjoy competing in challenges, earning badges or other rewards, and creating new social connections with other coworkers.


It improves a wide range of health risks


Regular, moderate physical activity, as realized through an employee wellness program, can reduce a long and scary list of health risks for certain types of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression, to name a few. It can improve your employee’s quality of life by improving their health, reducing stress, and keeping them safe and nimble to ensure that their later years are truly golden.


Overall, A physical activity focus provides a win-win to both pieces (employer and employee) in the workplace wellness puzzle. Put simply, healthier employees, achieved through an exercise-centric wellness program, perform better and cost less!



To learn more about physical activity and workplace wellness as well as the benefits of comprehensive population health programs, feel free to reach out to one of our wellness strategists using their online calendar here.



sources:

[1] https://hbr.org/2010/12/whats-the-hard-return-on-employee-wellness-programs
[2] http://www.workforce.com/articles/how-does-wellness-affect-the-bottom-line
[3] http://www.workforce.com/articles/how-does-wellness-affect-the-bottom-line

Friday, April 28, 2017

Case Study: A 2017 Update on Cleveland Clinic's Employee Healthy Choice Program


myInertia continues to work with Cleveland Clinic Employee Health Plan (CCEHP) to deliver deliver a custom wellness portal built around verifiable behavior change.



Since inception of their program, CCEHP has been challenging what the standard wellness program should be. They have pushed to create a program that truly changed their employee population, and in turn, delivered the results that should be expected from a robust disease management program.

Cleveland Clinic Employee Health Plan (CCEHP) has seen their annual medical and pharmacy costs flat-line. In fact, the trend is -0.5% per year. 

This is all the more impressive when you consider that:

  • CCEHP has also achieved a 16.7% reduction in medical and pharmacy utilization since 2010.
  • Employees have access to low cost healthcare services. 
  • CCEHP has no deductible, no co-insurance and very few co-pays.
  • Unit costs for medical & pharmacy have increased 39% since 2010.

So what's the secret to their success?

Similar to many health plans, CCEHP has robust offerings in medical management, pharmacy management, and behavioral health.

What CCEHP has done in addition to these programs is focus on true population-based behavior modification.

The Healthy Choice program is offered to all employees and spouses on the health plan, tying a health diagnosis and appropriate behavior modification together with a premium discount.

The focus of the program is on six high cost health conditions that can be significantly impacted by an individual’s behavior.

In 2016, three-quarters of all eligible employees and spouses completed an annual physician visit with a biometric screening, the requirement to enter the program. Of these, 64% actively enrolled in the program and 88% then went on to achieve the behavior based benchmarks.

Along with strong leadership, no barriers to healthcare access and a meaningful incentive, the success of Healthy Choice comes down to simplicity and ease of use.

Health Choice has a very simple design. Complete the assigned behavior(s) for your health status over the course of the program to earn your premium discount.

However, the reality of delivering an easy to use personalized experience to all plan members required finding the right partner.

Following an extensive RFP process myInertia was selected as the partner with the right set of capabilities to deliver an evolving program focused on measurable outcomes.

myInertia built a custom platform that serves up a personal dashboard to each user based on a CCEHP eligibility file. Everything a user needs to understand and participate in the program is accessible from this single dashboard.

Their health coaches also have access to the platform to view employee progress.

Enhancements are made to the platform with a focus on supporting user engagement and outcomes. In 2017, these included the delivery of e-communications in place of traditional mailings and the embedding of educational material relevant to each health status.

A tightly managed activity tracker program featuring Fitbit/Garmin devices and access to iHealth data has also been implemented in concert with the portal. This has supported ease of use and high levels of engagement in physical activity programs.

The Results

Healthy Choice is entering its eighth year and this long-term, disciplined focus has helped to produce a win-win situation.

While Cleveland Clinic and CCEHP have implemented many programs that have helped impact the results, there is no doubt that Healthy Choice has played a successful role in changing key behaviors across the population.

Employees/Spouses – For all eligible members there have been some key benefits:
  • Regardless of whether they participate in the Healthy Choice program, annual premium increases have reduced from 21% in 2010 to 0% in 2017.
  • Low cost access to healthcare has been maintained.
  • On an aggregate basis medical utilization is down and health indicators are up. Both pointing to an improved quality of life for employees/spouses.

Cleveland Clinic – The clinic has also reaped the benefits of the CCEHP efforts:

  • As noted previously, the historic 7.5% annual increase in medical and pharmacy costs has been transformed into a -0.5% reduction over the past three years.
  • This has resulted in an estimated $169 million cost avoidance.


Want to learn more about Cleveland Clinic's results-driven approach to wellness?

Download our full interview with Cleveland Clinic's Employee Health Plan Wellness Director, David Pauer, here. 






Tuesday, April 25, 2017

20 Creative Spring & Summer Wellness Initiatives to Try




Birds chirping, sun shining, grass growing. It’s a great time of year for many reasons, and one of those is the ability to boost wellness program participation.

To help you leverage the power of better weather, we compiled a list of 20 great (and fun!) ways you can boost employees’ health & wellbeing this season:


1. Plant a work garden

Right now is a great time to start an office garden. Not only does it provide healthy eating until fall, but teaching more about gardening can inspire employees to do it at home. Check out these self watering water boxes for an effortless gardening option. What should you plant? Some great ideas include: lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, peppers.


2. Integrate wearables

If you haven’t already, warm weather is the perfect time to introduce wearables into your workplace. Not only do these devices give a visual impact to your culture with everyone sporting a new device, but it builds social connections, motivates employees to get more active, and helps them track their personal fitness goals. (Read more about the benefits of a wearables program here.)





Did you know we offer The Wellness Outlet?

It's a free of charge service to help you distribute discounted Fitbit & Garmin wearables to your employees. Check out their website to learn more, or click here to chat with one of our wellness strategists about setting up your storefront today!




3. Hold walking meetings

Take one of your weekly meetings outside. Another idea, if you aren’t big on walking for the whole meeting is to simply start the meeting with a 10-minute walk, then return to the office for the remainder of the time allotted.



4. Build an outdoor eating area

Not only does being outside increase mood and vitamin D intake, but having an inviting area to have lunch can create stronger social bonds between co-workers.



5. Host a monthly game day

If you’re location allows, host a day every month filled with outdoor games. Be sure to include things like bean bag toss, washers, horseshoes, potato sack races, kickball, etc. You could even take it a step further and create teams to compete for healthy prizes!



6. Offer an extra PTO day

Everyone wants a little more time off in the summer - leverage that with an extra PTO day or flextime as a wellness incentive.



7. Host a company picnic

This is a great way to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work. Consider boosting even more camaraderie by including families. To keep the focus on well-being it’s smart to include healthy eating options and fun ways to get active during the picnic.



8. Hold “Don’t drive to work” days

Encourage employees to add activity to their commute. Even those who aren’t close enough to walk or bike could get some more activity in walking to and from public transportation.



9. Sign up for a 5k

Pick a local 5k and ask employees to sign up together. Make and give t-shirts out to participants to further support company culture.



10. Join a summer volleyball, kickball, softball league

This is not only a fun way to connect with coworkers outside of work, it also helps those who participate get more physically active.



11. Create a visual, color-in race board

If don’t have a vendor platform, like myInertia, that highlights challenge leaderboards, we created an alternative method. Print out poster size charts that employees fill in every time they complete a health-related task. For example, divide employees into two teams, have each employee color in one line when they walk for at least 10 minutes straight. The first team to completely color in their side wins.



12. Make maps of nearby walking path routes

Do you have a walking trail nearby? Or sidewalks, city blocks? Create simple maps to show employees how many steps they will get walking to nearby spots. Also include times and distance so employees can plan for a quick 10-minute power walk, or a longer 30 minute lunch-break stroll.



13. Create a healthy scavenger hunt day

Ask employees to team up and compete in a healthy scavenger hunt. Consider taking it online and using a photo challenge scavenger hunt. Include things like, take a picture at the mile marker sign 2 miles from work. Or post a photo of your teams’ healthy lunch. Make sure to have them include a hashtag so you can track the progress and award the winners.



14. Ask for 2k more


If you have wearables you can challenge employees to get 2,000 more steps a day. This is a great initiative because it includes all activity spectrums, from the less active, to the avid runners, because everyone can benefit from adding in a little more oomph to their day.



15. Attend outdoor work out classes

There is just something better about exercising outdoors. Check out your local city website and park website to find outdoor yoga, boot camps, and more.



16. Offer farmers market fresh foods

Your local farmers market offers great varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables. Consider including them in your lunch room and letting employees know they can get these types of great produce at their local farmers’ market.



17. Provide community bikes

Purchase a few bikes for employees to check out to bike at lunch, or use after work. You can paint the bikes in your company colors to make it a smart, culture-focused concept. Be sure to include a basket so they can carry their lunch, or other valuables safely.



18. Start a rental equipment center

A unique concept we heard at the local WELCOA conference last year was from Kimberly Clark. They offer free rental service so employees can rent out bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. to use to get active in ways that motivate them over the summer months.


19. Make a list of nearby restaurants and the healthy options you recommend they get there.

By offering a handy list of the healthy options available nearby, employees can be better equipped to make healthy eating decisions. A bonus idea is to include the walking distance and calories they would burn by walking/biking to said restaurant.


20. Get a volunteer group together

Spring and summer are a great time to volunteer in your local community. There’s yard clean up, planting trees, cleaning the downtown community, etc. Pick an initiative that resonates with your culture and encourage employees to attend by telling them the great benefits volunteering can offer, not only on their physical but mental health as well. (Read about the benefits here)


Did we miss any? We’d love to hear your summer and spring wellness ideas in the comment section below. Thank you!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Three Questions to Maximize Your Wellness Incentive Budget






Author: Dave Hoinville

Dave Hoinville is director of business development at myInertia. He has 25 years of experience focused on population health management, including roles as program director, general manager, EVP sales and business development.



Want to maximize your wellness incentives? Ask yourself these 3 questions.

Having spent 25+ years in the wellness industry, the question I find myself asking the most about incentives isn’t whether they are inherently good or bad, but how can employers maximize their impact? I have no doubt that a meaningful incentive can play a positive role in a highly engaging and results focused program – the real problem is, many employers today are approaching incentives from the wrong angle.

Here’s an example. I was recently working with a prospect who proudly stated that they had a $1,000 incentive in place for their employees, with 90%+ compliance. When I asked what action they were asking employees to take, they replied – an annual physician visit.

In another case, a prospect shared that they were seeing a similar level of compliance with a $350 incentive in place. This time for completing an on-line HRA.

Both prospects were frustrated that they did not have “more dollars available” to encourage employees to take meaningful healthy behaviors.

In both of these cases I think a little creative thinking could significantly improve their long-term incentive program and outcomes. I encouraged these prospects to think about the three following questions:


Is the effort we are asking employees to take in line with the value of the incentive?


In both of the examples above I would argue that the employers in question are “over-paying” for the behaviors they are promoting. Is a 30-minute subjective questionnaire response really worth $350 per employee per year?

An annual preventive visit may certainly have more value than an HRA, but does it really require a $1,000 incentive? A mistake that employers often make is to place too high of an incentive on a simple initial action. They then feel “trapped” or “stuck” – how do I get employees to do more or different actions when they now expect the same dollar amount for the initial action? This next question addresses that issue…


Are our incentives static or dynamic?


If you position an initial incentive as transactional – “do X and we’ll give you $Y” – you have set a static expectation, which makes it hard to change the program year after year. Employees feel entitled to their incentive.

This is where switching to a more dynamic approach can help. By offering “points”, instead of dollars for completing an action, you gain the flexibility to change the mix of actions you associate with the points.

For instance, in the first year of a program, perhaps you offer 100 points for completing an annual preventive visit – 100 points are worth $100. In the second year, you introduce participation in a physical activity program as a second behavior. Now employees can earn a total of 150 points - 50 points for the preventive visit and 100 points for being physically active.

The total incentive employees can earn has increased based on a higher effort level required to be physically active. Some employees may be upset that the value of the preventive visit has been reduced, but the reality is that you are offering employees that are willing to engage in a more robust health risk plan an increase in value. This ultimately produces a win-win scenario.

This principle of increasing the overall incentive level when you introduce additional actions highlights why the first question above is important – don’t over pay for the first incentive, particularly if it is for a one-time behavior. Once employees are used to a mix of actions collectively equating to a points-based reward it becomes easier to make changes in the program design from year to year without necessarily having to increase the total incentive at all.


Are our incentives driving behavior change?


One of the reasons why I believe the incentive described above for the HRA is an “over-payment” is that it doesn’t motivate a population level change in healthy behavior. Perhaps a small subset of employees will do a couple of things differently for a couple of weeks, but for most it will be out of sight, out of mind.

If this is the case, then we encourage clients to use dynamic change to ultimately shift these “one-time” actions (HRA, biometrics), into gateway behaviors for the incentive program – employees have to complete the initiative to enter into the program. The remaining dollars can then be allocated to on-going healthy behaviors such as being physically active, or participating in other well-being challenges.

At the end of the day, incentives often get labeled as ineffective when they are static and transactional. So, ask yourself - are you simply “checking the box” on wellness incentives? Do you have a strategy to maximize your incentive budgets and drive meaningful healthy employee behaviors?

By not overpaying, implementing a dynamic approach and focusing on real actions your incentives could be having a bigger impact on population health risk reduction.