How to revitalize your employee benefits program
Open enrollment is nearing for many companies—a time of year that is stressful for benefits managers. Paperwork, company-wide meetings, deadlines, and countless emails are no picnic for employees either. This year, why not consider a different approach? Instead of looking at this time of year as a necessary evil, why not treat it as an opportunity to make a true transformation in the health and well-being of your employee population instead? Sometimes a change in mindset—along with the right technology and a hyper-personalized approach—is all you need. And now is the perfect time to make it happen.
The need to revitalize your employee benefits program
This is the time of year when people typically slow down. Vacations are over. Children go back to school. The weather starts to cool and people head indoors. Of course, there’s nothing typical about 2020. Social-distancing requirements have closed theme parks, swimming pools, gyms, vacation hotspots, and other venues that normally encourage physical activity throughout the spring and summer months. The cancelation of sports leagues for adults and children have also reduced opportunities physical and social interaction. Stay-at-home orders have led people to spend more time online and less time sleeping. And work-from-home mandates means workers don’t get those extra steps running to catch the subway or walking through the parking lot to their office every day. Workers at home also have easy access to last night’s leftovers or the ice cream in the freezer, making it easy to over-indulge.
The pandemic has also caused an increase in mental health issues—a phenomena that’s expected to linger well into next year. Depression and anxiety are especially high at this time, both of which are proven to have a negative impact on health and well-being.
The point is that the current pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of your employees. They need your help now more than ever. Since benefits programs are top of mind this season, it’s a good time to consider a new, better approach—one that provides a more inspirational, effective, and transformational health and well-being experience for your employees.
Why the old approach won’t work
Most organizations are familiar with typical health and wellness programs. While employees often show enthusiasm early on, results are often short-lived as participation falls off after a few months—similar to New Year’s Eve resolutions. There are several reasons, including:
- One-size-fits-all, curriculum-based programs provide everyone with the same information in hopes that something resonates with each participant. Then the rest is up to them.
- Maintaining enthusiasm relies on self-motivation and sheer willpower. But as your healthcare costs probably reflect, motivation and willpower aren’t sustainable. They fall short of producing lasting change.
- Typical programs focus on weight loss alone. But weight loss is just one aspect of health transformation. The primary focus should be on creating a healthy lifestyle with healthy habits, not just numbers on a scale.
- Many programs lack one-on-one support, although some may try to mimic that support with chatbots.
- Traditional programs don’t leverage new tools like genetics and AI to create personalized experiences tailored for the individual.
- The average vendor has no skin in the game and no accountability for engagement and results. Once you sign the contract and write the check, you’re left to hope for engagement and outcomes.
In 2015, insurance giant Aetna partnered with Newtopia, a tech-enabled disease prevention company focused on healthy habit change, to conduct a one-year randomized control trial aimed at reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome among Aetna’s employee population. The program began with a psychosocial assessment and genetic profile for each participant. Participants were also paired with an Inspirator, a world-class expert trained in the fields of nutrition, exercise, genetics, and behavioral science. Inspirators were chosen based on each participant’s psychosocial profile. Participants also received a custom-built app that connected them to their Inspirator, activity tracker, and a smart scale that was provided by Newtopia. The results were impressive:
- $1,464 reduction in medical costs compared to a control group
- 76% attained a 4.3% loss in body weight, or an average of 10 pounds
- 50% of participants remained engaged for the entire trial
- 90% of participants who stayed with the program for 2 years continued to show improvement and weight loss up to 22 pounds
The time to revitalize your employee benefits program
Nearly 47 million adults in the US have metabolic syndrome. That translates to approximately 35% of a typical company’s workforce. The financial impact is significant as employees with metabolic syndrome increase employer costs by 60%. In these difficult times, organizations need a way to protect margins. Since medical costs are among the highest costs that employers face, they present one of the best opportunities for improving the bottom line.
It’s time to move on from the old one-size-fits-all programs. They simply don’t return a positive ROI for company, nor lasting health improvements for your employees. Why not take a new hyper-personalized approach, one that prevents chronic disease before it starts? Leveraging solutions that create an individualized, person-centered experience with coaching, technology, and digital tools can drive lasting change for employees and a healthier bottom line for your company. The need is urgent. The time is now.
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