Guest post by Amanda Evans, Chief Marketing Officer, SentryHealth
For years, employers and vendors have been trying to figure out the best employee engagement strategy. That’s because studies have shown that participation in things like traditional wellness programs has usually been pretty poor.
You can’t have a “one-size-fits-all” and a “set it and forget it” approach. Most employees won’t participate if (1) they don’t find it meaningful and (2) if it isn’t kept top of mind. That’s why it’s important to have a good employee engagement strategy to drive motivation and participation.
Employees are consumers and influencers.
Employers have to look at their employees as consumers and influencers. They’re consumers of their health benefits. And they’re influencers over workplace culture and business performance.
We recently hosted a webinar with Jan Oldenburg, FHIMSS, Principal in Participatory Health Consulting. She talked about how expectations around employee health care have changed over the years. Next, she discussed how employees behave like traditional consumers when it comes to benefits. She further explained the ways digital tools have raised expectations about convenience and access to health care. Lastly, Oldenburg pointed out what employers can do to recognize and address these elevated employee expectations.
One key takeaway is that employers must implement solutions that listen for behavior and intent. This is the only way to understand people and influence real change.
Think about Amazon. It provides recommendations based on behavior through both direct purchases and search (intent). If I’m buying a vacuum cleaner, it doesn’t suggest makeup or body wash. Instead, it shows me suggestions based on what other people bought and what I might like. For example, it may suggest cleaning supplies, filters, or other vacuum cleaners. All of these things relate directly back to my interest.
Health management vendors can learn from this model. Why ask someone to join a diabetes program if they don’t have diabetes? Why ask someone to run a 5K when they’ve said they don’t like to run? That does nothing to drive engagement. In fact, it does the opposite. It turns employees off.
Listen to individual wants and needs.
You need to focus on the individual to be successful. You need to “listen” by collecting data from a variety of data sources. Each employee has unique needs, desires, and challenges. By “listening” you can gain a clearer picture. And with a clearer picture, you can better guide them to the right programs, services, and resources.
For example, at SentryHealth, we collect and analyze data from:
- Biometric results
- Health and lifestyle risk assessments
- Medical claims
- Pharmacy claims
- Self-reported problems, risks, needs, and goals
When you’re better able to guide employees to what will work best for them, they feel heard. They feel seen. And most importantly, they feel understood. They’ll engage because they know someone cares about them. As a result, participation (and satisfaction) is higher.
Balance is key.
A lot of employees either receive too much or too little communication. And in many cases, the communication is irrelevant.
I think about companies that send me non-stop emails about everything. There’s no regard for what I’m interested in. So I usually do one of two things. I either unsubscribe or I just ignore them. Not very effective communication, is it?
On the other hand, what about the companies where I get little to no communication? I completely forget about them. Again, not very effective communication.
When it comes to encouraging employee participation, you need to find the perfect message, the perfect timing, and the perfect channel. All of these come together to engage each person.
People need to be informed. The value of what you offer should be continuously reinforced to keep it top of mind and to steer them in the right direction. Otherwise, out of sight, out of mind. Then, employers are left wondering why they aren’t seeing positive engagement in employee health programs or why their employees aren’t getting the care they need. They also wonder why they’re utilizing high-cost (possibly out-of-network) care.
We live in an on-demand world.
We live in a connected world where almost everything is at our fingertips.
These days, you can research and buy a car, order groceries, and even see a health care provider all while sitting on your sofa (that’s me, I’m that person). People are looking for less hassle, less effort, and more convenience. And they should. It gives us more time for the things that fill us up as humans. Things like spending time with family, getting outdoors (I’m that person too), or taking time for self-care.
You know what I really don’t want to do when it comes to my benefits? I don’t want to read through a bunch of stuff and try to figure it out myself. Or spend a bunch of time on the phone and not get clear answers. I want clear, concise information and guidance on my health care options. I also want the highest quality, most cost-effective options at the top of the list. When I need help from someone, I want that to be high quality and easy too. I also want someone to steer me to the best care at a fair price. When all of these things happens, I’m much more likely to wisely engage in my employee health benefits.
Support is critical.
Everyone wants and needs someone in their corner to help them figure things out and cheer them on. Think about your best friend and all the things you’ve been through. Think about how different things would be if everyone had their own personal medical advocate. These are people who are dedicated to helping you improve physical health, emotional/mental health, financial health, and social health. They’re experts that you can trust to provide unbiased, personalized support to help you achieve your life goals. They can also help you make sense of your health benefits so employees get the right care at the right time, every time.
Bringing it all together.
In summary, when you combine these four factors in your employee engagement strategy, employees are empowered to take control and take action:
- Treat employees like consumers and influencers
- Listen to the individual
- Offer on-demand tools
- Provide personalized support
As a result, employees are empowered to live fuller, happier lives. And when you’re leveraging a robust employee engagement strategy, you’ll see a positive impact across your entire organization. Engaged employees are more involved. They’re more committed. And they’re more inclined to stay with you.
It really comes down to connecting the right people to the right care, in the right way.
Our employee engagement strategy.
We’re highly focused on driving participation and engagement. The biggest reason most programs fail is that they take a one-size-fits-all approach to outreach. It simply doesn’t work.
We work with our clients to develop messaging that considers company culture and employee population to drive the greatest results. Then, we leverage multiple channels to continuously reinforce the benefits of participating. This includes email, direct mail, texting, personal telephone calls, on-site events, virtual events, and social circles.
Next, to drive employee engagement, we personalize outreach using our Intelligent Employee Profiles. These profiles use analytics to identify the right care at the right time, for the right employees. We then take that a step further, providing one-on-one guidance from licensed clinicians.
Finally, with a deeper understanding of each employee, we proactively reach out to provide guidance and support. We connect employees to the programs and services that will have the greatest impact on their health and wellbeing, without making them feel overwhelmed.
I’d love to chat with you further about how we drive employee engagement. Also, I’d love to talk to your more about our integrated health solution! It’s a real game-changer that will help you see better usage of cost-effective care, workforce health, and employee satisfaction.
Amanda Evans develops and implements data-driven, digital marketing and market development strategies at SentryHealth. In her role, she leads patient and member engagement strategies. Her efforts increase usage and adoption of programs and services to improve quality of life and better control rising health care costs.
You may also be interested in our podcast Building a Strong Company Culture through Engagement.