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Innovation September 22, 2016
For companies wanting to save money on their ever-increasing healthcare costs, corporate wellness programs offer the best return on investment, hands down. (This news isn’t new – it’s been true for close to a decade now.)
But, there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch.) Employees have to participate in your corporate wellness program in order for you to see those returns. And you can’t force them or coerce them. You can incentivize them – but they essentially have to participate of their own free will. And unfortunately, a study from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 reports that only 46 percent of employees in “organizations with a wellness program undergo clinical screening and/or complete a Health Risk Assessment (HRA).” Even fewer participate in interventions (ranging from 7 to 21 percent).
What IS new is how many ways there are for companies and employees to work together and participate in corporate wellness programs. And what’s really exciting are all the technology options corporations can choose from to implement engaging and personalized corporate wellness programs.
Using the right technology could be the tipping point in your own corporate wellness program. It could mean the difference between getting employees engaged and motivated to participate versus wasting money on a program that one uses and still not seeing healthcare costs go down.
Take a look at these 7 reasons why you should invest in corporate wellness technology. Which ones make the most sense for your organization?
If you’re thinking, we’ve tried and failed before with corporate wellness programs, don’t give up yet. Consumer-facing technology is empowering consumers to take control of their health in ways they’ve never been able to before. Why not harness the power of mobile technology and develop an engaging experience for your employees?
Think about how our smartphones have become an essential item in our daily lives. We use our phones to stay on task, be entertained, and to track things like daily workouts, caloric intake, etc. And there are Fitbits and Garmin trackers. At RTS Labs, founder Jyot Singh invested in Garmin trackers for the office. With a fun, digital way to track everyone’s progress, some people in the office have gotten quite competitive about staying fit.
Mobile engagement strategies could drive your corporate wellness program – making it more effective (and fun) than other initiatives you may have tried in the past.
Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, wellness technology has the ability to offer up a personalized experience to individual users. The right program can create algorithms based on users’ preferences, activity levels, diet, sleep, and other lifestyle habits. Combine that with comprehensive health risk assessments for participants and you’ve got a health coach in each of your employees’ pockets – a coach that serves up personalized preventative health recommendations, health information about their risks, workouts, recipes and more.
According to a study from the CDC, more than 75% of U.S. healthcare spending is on people with chronic conditions (heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and respiratory diseases). The major causes of chronic diseases are known. According to the World Health Organization, eliminating these known risk factors would result in being able to prevent at least 80% of all heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes, and over 40% of cancer.
Wellness assessments can screen employees for risk factors and provide those individuals with individualized prevention information. They can also help individuals manage their chronic diseases through lifestyle changes.
One study from RAND Corporation reports that disease management components of corporate wellness programs can deliver an estimated ROI as high as $3.80 in savings.
The obvious reason for investing in corporate wellness technology is that healthier employees equal lower healthcare costs. But a reduction in healthcare costs is just the start. Effective corporate wellness programs also translate to business outcomes like lower absenteeism and higher job satisfaction, productivity, and employee retention. All of these things translate to lower labor costs and less turnover for you.
A healthier workforce is also a safer workforce. Think about it. Sleep issues can cause problems with alertness and lead to accidents, and obesity can be a risk factor for falling. A workforce that pays more attention to their health pays more attention to safety as well.
An engaging corporate wellness program that people enjoy participating in adds value to the company overall. It’s one thing to have good health benefits but another to have a program that provides personalized healthcare solutions. Engaging employees is every HR manager’s dream. It unifies the culture and helps aid in employee retention. Engaged employees are more productive and take ownership in the work they do.
BUT how to engage employees consistently is something that can elude even the most creative HR departments and managers. There are many factors that contribute to employee engagement. And corporate wellness programs can be a contributing factor.
What happens when people take better care of themselves? What happens when the company culture shifts to a focus on health? One outcome is that employees begin to invest in the well-being of the company, because the company supports and nurtures them.
While the health data you can get from corporate wellness programs is always anonymous (in order to be HIPPA compliant), the data can say a lot about the overall health of your employees. And that kind of information can help you make more informed decisions about what kinds of healthcare plans and incentives to offer employees.
For example, if 70% of employees seem to be using Fitbits consistently, maybe it would be worth subsidizing the device for all employees to use. (Those Garmin trackers that Jyot got for the gang at RTS Labs have gotten us seriously motivated to take a few extra laps around the lake near our office. We love seeing our stats go up!) Or, if a large number of employees are at risk for diabetes, perhaps a cafeteria or meal program would help.
While these 7 reasons why you should invest in corporate wellness technology are all good reasons, here’s the bottom line: Unhealthy employees equal higher healthcare costs. Corporations have been trying to solve this problem for years – the problem of how to engage and inspire employees to take better preventative care of themselves, to get screened, and to make better lifestyle choices. Attitudes toward health are shifting, and with a technology solution in place, a corporate wellness program can make a big impact and reduce your healthcare expenses.
Interested in the behavioral and technology sides of corporate wellness programs? Reach out to RTS Labs to have an initial conversation about ideas that have worked for other companies – that could work for you, too!
Contact us to talk about how we can help.