1. Confusing employees with too many options
Wellness program services range from nutrition counseling to stress management and diabetes coaching, so only certain offerings will be relevant for each employee. While customizing is important, research shows that offering too many options tends to overwhelm and discourage employees from participating. Instead of offering a menu of options, use data to customize services at the employee level. For example, Carolinas HealthCare System's HEALTHWORKS program analyzes employer claims data to create custom employee health action plans that track progress towards individualized goals. Providers offering similarly customized programs have seen up to 95% participation, nearly double the average national rate.
2. Hiding the system brand
Digital wellness services such as employer wellness portals (where employees track their health, fitness, or nutrition progress) are often whitelabeled under the employer's brand. This, however, can dissuade utilization: 75% of workers are willing to share self-collected health data with a health care provider, compared with just 9% who would do so with their employer. Planners should maintain and emphasize the system's brand on digital wellness services to signal credibility.
3. Keeping services at a distance
Convenience is a major participation incentive: Studies show that being able to participate in wellness during working hours is one of the strongest motivators toward program engagement. Make services convenient by providing dedicated appointment windows at clinics near the worksite so that employees can step away from work and meet with a provider with minimal wait time. Similarly, offer no-travel wellness services virtually. Over a third of consumers who took part in our Virtual Visit Consumer Choice Survey said they would see a provider virtually for coaching on smoking cessation or weight loss.
4. Withholding meaningful incentives
Most employers offer incentives for employees to engage in wellness services. Financial incentives can increase participation by 20%, but in order to make best use of funds, incentives must be both reasonable and convincing. Larger incentives ($200-$400) can be necessary to encourage big behavior change–such as quitting smoking— while smaller, more frequent rewards have been shown to motivate participants to meet monthly weight targets. Encourage employer partners to work with their legal counsel to ensure financial incentives comply with ACA provisions regulating program design, eligibility, and maximum reward.
Get best practices on direct-to-employer partnerships
Learn how to grow direct-to-employer partnerships with solutions that manage employers' health care spend.