Redefining Employee Outreach and Engagement in Health Care, SentryHealth
For Your Benefits
For Your Benefits
Redefining Employee Outreach and Engagement in Health Care
/

Redefining Employee Outreach and Engagement

In this episode of For Your Benefits, we chat with Amanda Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at SentryHealth, about the value of proactive employee outreach and engagement in wellness programs.

It seems like everyone is searching for the secret sauce of how to encourage wellbeing program participation. And for good reason. When employees participate in your program, they’re more likely to be successful. They’re also more likely to be happier in their jobs.

Amanda discusses strategies to ensure that employee outreach is meaningful to the employees. We cover what’s working at SentryHealth and how our approach is unlike any seen before. We then chat about the importance of shifting away from traditional incentives towards lower cost, higher value options. By doing so, participation is often more meaningful and sustainable.

If you like what you heard, take a look at our unique approach to employee outreach and engagement. We provide an individually-focused experience that ensures the greatest participation.

In This Podcast

Amanda Evans, SentryHealth Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda Evans

As Chief Marketing Officer, Amanda is responsible for the development and management of the employee outreach and engagement services at SentryHealth. With nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, Amanda is a data-driven leader with a history of producing high-value results and has successfully launched programs focused on improving engagement and retention.

Meghan Henry:

Welcome back to For Your Benefits sponsored by SentryHealth, creators of WellOnMyWay, a leading employee health and wellness solution. Today’s episode is the third and final one in our series on emerging trends in employee health and wellness. I’m Meghan Henry, Marketing Director for SentryHealth. And today I’m talking with our very own Amanda Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at SentryHealth. Amanda is going to be sharing her insights into another hot trend in wellbeing management, employee engagement. Thanks for joining us, Amanda.

Amanda Evans:

Thank you.

About Amanda Evans

Meghan Henry:

So let’s start by talking about you and your role at SentryHealth. Tell me a little bit more about yourself.

Amanda Evans:

All right. So I’ve been working in marketing for nearly 20 years with the last eight in health care. At SentryHealth I lead both marketing and engagement services, applying key principles and best practices to motivate people to action.

What is Employee Engagement?

Meghan Henry:

Well, let’s get started. Let’s talk about employee engagement. Employee engagement really is a hot topic these days. And it seems like everyone is searching for that secret sauce of how to encourage program participation and achieve meaningful action. And that’s really for a good reason.

So here’s a statistic that I found recently. According to Gallup, businesses with highly engaged employees realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity, and they’re 59% less likely to leave their jobs. But before we really dig into engagement, I think we need to talk about what engagement really is. As someone who’s directly concerned about employee engagement at SentryHealth, how do you define engagement?

Amanda Evans:

Meghan, those are really powerful statistics. And we know in the world of health and wellness, we see two very different definitions of engagement. Some refer to engagement in the simplest form as logins to a portal. If an employee logs into their portal, they’re considered engaged straight up, simple. And while that’s valuable information, it’s not the most accurate representation of being engaged when looking at engagement.

We should really go beyond that to look at whether people are taking the most appropriate actions at the most appropriate time to improve their well-being and whether they’re achieving success.

Vendor’s Role in Employee Outreach

Meghan Henry:

Ok, so you mentioned what engagement is SentryHealth looks like. Tell me about the ways that vendors play a role in employee engagement.

Amanda Evans:

Well, over time, employers have discovered that a successful program requires much more than a set it and forget it attitude. Because of this, employee outreach and engagement has become a hot topic and their vendor plays the most important role. Historically, vendors have either left employee engagement up to the employer or each vendor communicate directly with the employee.

This causes three problems, really. One, employers are strapped with the burden of managing engagement activities. Two, employees, can be skeptical, and won’t participate because they don’t want their employer to know too much about their health and personal business. And three, it really provides a disjointed experience where everyone’s talking at the employee all of the same time with no collaboration between vendors or a clear communication plan. This is often confusing and overwhelming, causing many employees to lose interest.

With an integrated solution where one third-party vendor fully manages every aspect of a program, including engagement, they’re better able to communicate the full value of the program and its components through individualized marketing and communication strategies. And when the engagement is between the vendor and the employee, employees feel more confident, sharing information that could really help drive better health and wellbeing.

Ensuring Meaningful Engagement

Meghan Henry:

And I do think that when employees do feel confident sharing their information, they are more likely to participate. So excellent point. All right. So let’s dig a little deeper into how engagement should be defined as being just more than portal clicks. Email clicks, email opens. How can you ensure engagement is meaningful to the employee?

Amanda Evans:

You know, you can’t expect all employees to participate without ongoing education, encouragement, and support from a third-party provider that has earned their trust. This level of trust can be obtained by ensuring confidentiality and delivering meaningful communications at the right time.

For example, at SentryHealth, we leverage intelligent employee profiles to really understand each employee. These profiles are derived using data analysis and employee self-disclosed preferences to ensure the right communication at the right time. It’s all about balance at the individual employee level. Not too many communications, not too little, and they have to be relevant and specific to that individual employee’s unique wellbeing journey.

I know you talked about data in another episode, but it’s important to go beyond just what’s collected through claims data and a health risk assessment. Learning more about what motivates an employee and what challenges they may be faced with like social determinants is really important.

It’s also important to understand company culture, workforce demographics, how the staff interacts with management and HR, and how happy the employees are. All of that information goes into what we refer to as an intelligent communication plan that is personalized all the way down to the individual employee.

We also utilize multiple channels like email, text, direct mail, and personalized phone calls. We don’t do robocalls to really engage each employee and we apply the most appropriate mix based on the employer’s population. For example, we’ve worked with agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and higher education clients just to name a few. And our communication strategies and messaging varied by client because not every employee population is the same and you can’t treat them like they are.

Incentive Management

Meghan Henry:

So let’s talk about another important component of employee engagement, and that would be incentives. We’re seeing a shift away from traditional incentives towards lower cost, yet still high-value options. Why do you think that’s happening?

Amanda Evans:

While paying for incentives like gift cards, rewards, premium reductions for participation is a huge portion of an employer’s health and wellbeing budget. Last year, companies spent $3.6 million on programs, and of those costs, 40% went towards financial incentives designed to encourage participation. That’s a huge chunk of their budget. Employers have found that they’re spending a whole lot of money on these incentives but aren’t getting the return they expected.

That’s why they’re looking for new ways to incentivize employees and rewarding employees for meaningful actions that result in truly positive behavior change in outcomes. You know, by focusing on goal commitment, employees are driven to achieving success rather than simply taking action and earning rewards.

Impact of COVID-19

Meghan Henry:

As we record this, we are in the middle of a pandemic. How has COVID affected employee engagement with health and wellness programs?

Amanda Evans:

Yeah, so, you know, we learned a lot from COVID. We’ve seen greater and faster adoption of digital and telephonic solutions. And from the impact of COVID, we’re hearing from many employers that they’re looking for solutions to support their employees and physical, emotional, and financial health. But we’re also hearing that they’re looking for a solution to keep everyone connected.

You know, we quickly moved into a more remote workforce where Zoom meetings are our most used tools to connect. However, now we’re seeing statistics about digital meeting fatigue. We also know that employees are carrying much more burden this year than ever before. For example, many employees are playing the role of parent, teacher, and worker.

Many employees are also feeling self-isolated, and many could be facing financial concerns from, say, their spouse being laid off or furloughed or even simply their hours being cut. So we need to think about how we support and create connections in other ways. And a good way is through an easy, easily accessible digital health and wellness solution that provides the support and resources people need, but also brings them together and promotes a sense of connection. For example, we offer many different programs to support employees that they can access any time from anywhere. But we also manage challenges and social connections are our solution to not only engage employees with the programs but to engage employees with each other.

Employee Outreach Tips

Meghan Henry:

Great. Amanda, as we wrap up, what are some of the things that employers need to keep in mind in regards to employee outreach and engagement when they’re looking at health and wellness?

Amanda Evans:

Vendor Yeah, so a vendor should be focused on understanding each unique employee at a deeper level to really support them on their journey. They should provide relevant, timely communication specific to each employee. When employees get too many communications that don’t apply or aren’t of interest to them, they lose interest in the whole program. And a vendor should apply a high-touch outreach strategy based on an employee population and preferences.

Meghan Henry:

All right. Well, that wraps it up for this episode of For Your Benefits. Amanda, thank you for sharing your thoughts on employee engagement and outreach. If you’d like to learn more about this and other emerging trends in health and wellness, visit the SentryHealth website at www.sentryhealth.com. And if you like what you heard today and you want to hear more, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast. We’ll continue to keep you on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the world of corporate wellness. Thanks for joining us. See you next time.

LET’S CONNECT

Want to learn more about SentryHealth? Simply fill out this form to request a consultation and learn more about our solutions.

LET’S CONNECT

Want to learn more about SentryHealth? Simply fill out this form to request a consultation and learn more about our solutions.