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14 ways to improve corporate wellness programs with wearables

James A. Martin | Oct. 6, 2015
Corporate wellness experts share dos and don't of wearable-based corporate health and wellness programs, along with advice on how to enhance and improve your organizations current employee fitness initiatives.

Bank of America uses "every form of communications possible" to detail updates, features and benefits related to its wellness program and health challenges, according to Huffman, including the company Intranet, email, "snail mail" sent to employee homes, and team meetings. Before opening each day, Bank of America branches also have "team huddles," which are ideal for communicating information about company wellness programs.

8) Share employees' positive experiences

Several speakers at the San Francisco Fitbit conference said sharing testimonials is an excellent way to engage employees in wellness programs or fitness challenges. 

"People love to read stories about their colleagues," Benz said. For example, an "average Joe" who was a smoker for 20 years successfully completed a cessation program offered by one of Benz's corporate clients. The company highlighted "Joe's" accomplishment in one of its employee newsletters, and nearly 100 fellow employees emailed him to say the story inspired them to join the program, Benz said. Joe also told his company benefits manager that, after all the recognition he received for quitting, he "definitely can't start smoking again."

Boehm added that organizations should find testimonials from all levels of the company and "keep putting them out there." Employees featured in testimonials can be a wellness program's "best advocates."

9) Focus over generality in communications

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to effective communication, Boehm said. "The more tailored your communications are (to individual interests), the more engagement you'll get." You're trying to get people to change their behavior, she said. But if your approach is too broad or general, employees might think the message doesn't apply to them.

10) Be timely and proactive

Organizations' communications should be timely and relevant whenever possible, according to Benz. She suggests following the "TaskRabbit model" by striving to make communications "helpful for others" and giving employees information they can act on. For example, if an employee needs an MRI, a company might provide information on affordable facilities that perform the test before the employee makes an appointment. 

More tips for successful corporate wellness programs

11) It's not all about the Benjamins

It's never a good idea to depend solely on financial incentives to motivate employees. Many employers choose to increase financial incentives to motivate staff health improvement, but the majority of workers don't take full advantage of the incentives, according LuAnn Heinen, vice president, National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

In 2015, 79 percent of employers will offer monetary health incentives, up from 63 percent five years earlier, according to a 2015 NBGH and Fidelity Investments survey, which Heinen cited. The same survey also found the average maximum incentive amount rose to $693 this year compared to $594 in 2014, while only 47 percent of employees earn the full incentive amount, and 26 percent earn just a portion of the total.


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