Monday, April 2, 2018

7 Tips for Kick-Starting a Wellness Program for Your Small/Medium Clients

Not surprisingly much of the wellness industry has been developed with larger employers in mind.

However, this often creates challenges for small to medium employers who have limited resources and often find that wellness platforms are over-engineered and over-priced. The typical offerings like biometrics and targeted coaching can quickly consume annual budgets without providing any population impact on healthy behaviors. So what can you, as the Broker, do to help guide these forgotten sectors?

Here are 7 things to recommend when developing a wellness plan for your small to medium clients:

1. Remember the “hidden risk”. 

Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease. – all drive healthcare costs. Not only those who are currently diagnosed, but the hidden suspects. While there are numerous wellness initiatives available, pick one or two with the broadest impact, like physical activity improvement, to focus on in the first year of a new program. This allows the program to be all-inclusive, targeting those currently diagnosed, and the hidden risk.

2. Maximize incentives. 

Make sure that rewards target ongoing actions or behaviors – don’t use them all up on point-in-time HRAs or screenings. If funds won’t stretch to individual rewards, then pool resources and offer “drawings” for anyone who achieves a meaningful level of healthy actions. Winner take all prizes can actually discourage the majority of employees from participating.

3. Use community resources. 

Local organizations (health systems, non-profits) may offer low or no cost programs to employers. Carriers may also offer “wellness dollars” and/or services that are free. In addition, the employer themselves may be doing some things internally. These affordable elements can be integrated into an overall annual plan.

4. Automate when possible. 

Technology such as activity trackers, turn-key points-based incentives and mobile apps allow employees to easily access and participate in programs year-round. They also reduce administrative burden.

5. Collect Independent data. 

Clients should be encouraged to ”own” their wellness data. By being independent of carriers a history can be established without worrying about switching between plans. This independent data can help with both program enhancements and potentially be used to negotiate favorable plan rates.

6. Start a feedback loop. 

Survey participants and non-participants at the end of the program. Find out what they liked and how they would like to see the program improved. Having a multi-year focus will help employers continue to learn and improve.

7. Celebrate success. 

Make sure that leadership highlight individual and group success within the program. These stories will help the program stay relevant and motivate employees to continue to engage with the program.

While many wellness programs and vendors may be out of the reach of small to medium employers there are still ways for them to engage their employees in healthy behaviors. Using the principles highlighted above will allow you showcase your expertise and gain trust within the small to mid-size industry.

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