Why Wellness Isn’t Just About You

It shouldn’t be a surprise that companies benefit from having healthier employees. Studies have shown employees engaged in wellness are more productive at work and have lower health claims costs than unengaged employees. Still, workplace wellness isn’t just about your business. It’s foremost about employees – about making it easy for them to show up to work feeling good about themselves and feeling empowered to do their best work. Yet, today’s health and wellness strategies demand more of employees than most companies realize, where much of the effort exerted to engage in health is completely absorbed by the employee.

In our dynamic, rapidly shifting environment, mainstream consumer experiences are resetting employee health-related behaviors and expectations. Three strategic inflections (hat tip to Andrew Grove for teaching us about inflection points) underscore why wellness must stay true to the employee to really produce value.

Exponential growth in discretionary spending on consumer health and wellness products.

Employees are increasingly investing in health and well-being on their own without any employer funding. They spend $40B annually out of pocket for fitness club memberships, weight loss programs, vitamins and other supplements, and many other services not covered by health insurance. People want to be healthy. They want to have well-being and they are willing to pay for products and services that they deem to be of value in aiding their health journey.

Yet, most employees are subject to solutions that don’t connect with consumers’ mindset today. Many companies do not have knowledge of, or a way, to reward what employees are doing outside of employer programs to stay healthy, which means the potential for engagement is often misjudged.

We’re in a new era of consumer choice, transparency and power.

Under the Affordable Care Act consumers have choice, transparency and information like they have never had before.  With this choice and information, they will gain power in unimaginable ways and in return expect more personalized content and experiences. To drive higher engagement and better outcomes, never has it been more important to meet people where they are and support them on their health journey.

Today, many companies offer one-size-fits-all programs and content that underestimates this growing employee choice and power. Instead, employers and vendors need to ride the wave of change and become more knowledgeable as to how the workforce is using information to make decisions and be prepared to sustain engagement through their terms. Together, we must relentlessly listen to the voice of the employee and co-create health and wellness experiences with them.

Consumers have access to anytime, anywhere health.

The majority of this activity is currently taking place in a digital world that fundamentally alters how data is captured, stored, accessed and distributed. Employees are more than ever sharing their personal health information online and participating in communities around specific conditions and issues. It’s an “ask or tell” anybody, anything world.;

Few employer programs factor in what is happening in digital health today and if they do they are only connecting in devices. But the digital world is not just a website or a mobile app. And it’s much more than one of self-service transactions between a single business and consumer. Instead it’s about connectivity to many relationships. The digital world is wide open for sharing, learning, problem solving, connecting and building. It involves the employee, provider, caregiver, supplier and even strangers with similar experiences and conditions. Imagine an ecosystem where your employees co-create their health and well-being experiences, anytime, anywhere.

So where IS wellness about you? 1.) Building wellness programs that truly understand the strategic inflections changing consumer behavior and expectations. 2.) Creating the culture and infrastructure that embraces, supports and rewards employee wellness goals. Only then can employers start to bridge the engagement gap and truly commit to a total well-being experience for their employees.

That’s when wellness works.

Speak loudly, step boldly!

Follow me on twitter: @bethbierbowerNovember 20th, 2014 9:46am Beth Bierbower whenwellnessworks wellness