Employee Health and Wellness Tips From America’s Healthiest Employers

As we enter our tenth year of the Healthiest Employer Awards program, our entire team has spent time reflecting on lessons learned. Over the past decade, we’ve heard stories from over 8,000 organizations who are actively working to promote health and wellness towards their employees. In that time, we’ve seen the landscape of population health change quite dramatically, but there are several principles that remain consistent. The most effective employee health programs consistently do three things more effectively than the rest of the pack:

  1. They seek executive buy-in
  2. They stay up-to-date with modern technology
  3. They are vigilant about measuring health outcomes associated with population cohorts

In 2017, we teamed up with Fitbit to present our Healthiest 100 Employers in America Awards. This partnership allows us to share our findings with a broader audience, while gaining exposure to the impact that wearable devices can have on wellness programs.

Another benefit of partnering with Fitbit is that they have a great content team who works hard to provide lessons and trends from their research. They produced an E-Book that you can access here that covers lessons that they learned by partnering with us on the Healthiest Employers program.

One of the most common questions we get from employers applying for the Healthiest Employer is “what can I do better?” As we enter the 2018 award season, we wanted to run through some of our biggest findings over the past nine years.

Three Employee Health and Wellness Tips Your Organization Can Implement in 2018

1. Improving Employee Health Starts With Executive Buy-In

The most important lesson we’ve learned about healthy workplaces in the past nine years is the importance of executive buy-in. Oftentimes, employee wellness initiatives are the first items on the table for budget cuts because they’re not revenue generating. Unfortunately, if your wellness program fluctuates greatly in scope from year-to-year, it can be extremely difficult to measure ROI, which makes it more difficult to justify budget.

This cyclical issue is bypassed altogether when leadership believes in the mission of employee wellness. Instead of pushing the limits of wellness initiatives, challenging them to do more with less, the best executive wellness champions work hard to invest wellness dollars in a sensible fashion. This leads to greater return on investment, as wellness pros are given the leeway to test new programming, invest in what works, and cut what fails to generate results.

In addition to a strong professional belief in wellness, many executive champions of wellness programs make health a centerpiece of their own lives. It’s not uncommon for high-performing wellness programs to have the backing of a very healthy executive. Several of 2017’s award winners featured members of their C-Suite who use their lunch breaks to exercise with employees, or who regularly run 10ks in their free time.

This relationship is intuitive. It’s not uncommon for employees to model the behavior of their superiors. Therefore, when employees see their leadership team modeling healthy behavior, it’s only logical that they would tend to mirror that behavior in their own lives.

As you look for ways to cultivate a healthier workplace in 2018, try to identify ways that your leadership team can get involved. This may mean finding executive sponsors for various programs, or having department leaders provide public praise for employees participating in a particular initiative. Regardless of the vehicle you use, finding a way to signal executive involvement in wellness is one of the largest steps you can make in improving the direction of your wellness program.

2. You Can’t Improve Employee Health If You Don’t Measure It

Additionally, we’ve noticed that through the years, our recipients continually get more data savvy. A decade ago, HR Directors would rely on data that they received from third-parties to measure their program’s success. Over the past nine years, however, we’ve seen a steady march towards modernization of these data sets. According to our applicant data, in 2017, 93 percent of America’s Healthiest 100 Companies reporting leveraging some form of analytics to measure the efficacy of their wellness initiatives.

This takes a different form for every organization. Some companies enlist full data teams, dedicated to slicing and dicing population health data to find opportunities and prove ROI. Other organizations are investing in software like Springbuk that can automate this process for them. Regardless of what the right solution looks like for you, if you want to improve your health and wellness initiatives in 2018, it’s essential that you measure and analyze your population health data appropriately. Whether you’re trying to lower healthcare costs, prevent obesity, or just report back to your boss, the right analytics solution is key.

If Your Population Health Tech Stack is Outdated, You’re Falling Behind

Finally, the evolution of population health technology over the past decade has been staggering. What was once a nascent industry, comprised of clunky systems and manual processes, has been turned on its head in recent years. As our ability to analyze data expands and grows, so does our ability to glean meaningful insights from that data. This means that, while some organizations are relying on the same technology that they used two or three years ago, others are adopting more modern tech stacks that are helping them do more with less.

Now, instead of relying on outdated tools like data warehouses, more organizations are leaning on health analytics platforms that are designed to provide them with smart, actionable insights from their population health data. This means that, instead of producing charts and graphs, their health technology stack is producing real health results within their population.

Moving into 2018, we’d recommend taking a full audit of your health tech stack. If you’re not getting the information you need to turn insights into action, you should consider making a change.

Interested in learning more about how you can modernize your health tech stack in 2018? Request a demo of the Springbuk platform. We’re always happy to provide more employee health and wellness tips for your population.