4 Milestones in the Evolution of the Corporate Wellness Program

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May 25, 2015

We are witnessing the rapid evolution of the corporate wellness program.

Today, the use of technology platforms with a wellness program can serve as an effective tool to help build a workplace culture of health. Employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a whole-person view — recognizing its social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions.

And industry players have grown from a vendor relationship to serving as trusted partners to their clients — providing the people, tools and processes to make ongoing healthy actions possible.

You can be sure the industry will continue to evolve. Next year will look different from this and in 10 years … well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In an industry where the only thing constant is change, I find taking stock of this evolution is crucial to help chart a path forward.

Here is a look at four (4) key milestones in the evolution of corporate wellness programs:

1. Value of an on-site presence

Our clients see the value in health management companies maintaining an on-site presence. On-site wellness staff not only keep health and wellness in the foreground, but serve as corporate wellness navigators to employees, helping to boost participation and increase engagement in wellness programs.

Rather than outsource the various parts of corporate wellness, there is now an emerging trend toward single-sourcing all components of a corporate wellness program. This is especially helpful when companies are strapped for manpower — and let’s face it, who isn’t?

2. Partner vs. Vendor

I have found the best successes come when our clients view us as a partner — and of course, this needs to work as a two-way street. We ask that our clients help us understand the employee population — who they are and what drives them—so we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. But clients need to weigh in and be involved throughout the entire process.

Whether it’s an HR, Wellness or Benefit group, any entity under the corporate wellness umbrella needs to understand each other’s role and how it relates to the participant experience.

3. Focus on the long term

While it’s exciting to witness how technology impacts the delivery of corporate wellness platforms, we counsel clients to take a step back and determine that the technology in question is a good fit for a particular employee population. We emphasize that while it’s one of several tools used to create a culture of health, a technology platform by itself is unlikely to instill a pervasive culture of health that supports long-term behavior change.

A technology platform can act as the digital hub in supporting your employee population to become active and informed and serve as a conduit to engage participants. But lasting change takes time and requires people, tools and processes working in concert. It also requires a strategic approach with an emphasis on long-range planning.

As we say to our clients when planning a corporate wellness program, “Begin with the end in mind.”

4. Delivery is paramount to success

Today’s smart employers address the variety of dimensions that influence health and productivity in the workplace, as they seek to re-define “health” to address not just the physical but its social, emotional and financial dimensions.

And while all these elements are crucial in determining overall health, what matters is the delivery — how you empower employees to pay attention and take action.

I am very excited about the rapid evolution that has occurred within our industry. This evolution presents a great opportunity for our clients, and by extension, partners such as ourselves. But with this opportunity comes a great responsibility. It is not enough for us to counsel clients that creating healthy employee lifestyles takes a long-term commitment.

We must demonstrate this commitment in our actions; in our people, tools and processes. And in our willingness to work collaboratively every step of the way.