I recently attended the Texas Business Group on Health (TBGH)’s 2019 Regional Benefits Forums in San Antonio and Houston. Aside from taking advantage of the great opportunity to meet face-to-face with a number of employee benefits professionals from the Lone Star State, I was able to soak in the many insights shared during the educational sessions.
It’s so important for Grokker to stay in tune with the challenges (and innovations!) facing benefits administrators and, of course, their workforce, so that we can make sure our employee health engagement product continues to meet their needs — so I’m excited to share these key wellbeing-related takeaways with my team, and with you:
1. There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Employee Health
This “aha” may seem obvious — but all the more reason for it to kick-off my list. The complex topic of obesity management and diabetes prevention was discussed at length at the forums, as type 2 diabetes is one of the costliest and most prevalent health conditions impacting the US workforce. It was within this context that the TBGH panelists explored how employers can help their at-risk employees “improve their numbers” and feel their best.
Indeed, there’s no silver-bullet solution, and it usually takes a highly individualized combination of approaches to move the proverbial needle on better health and healthcare cost outcomes.
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One of these approaches is self-care, as discussed in the session, The Skinny on Tackling Obesity to Prevent Diabetes. That’s why the panel employers offer employees — whether or not they’re personally struggling with diabetes — a number of self-directed tools and resources, from Fitbits and step challenges to onsite health and wellness centers. “This is the right thing to do for our employees,” explained one panelist, “and is part of our workplace culture of health.”
At Grokker, we know the lifestyle factors of exercise, nutrition, sleep, and stress are interconnected and contribute, collectively, to the health, happiness, and productivity of employees. That’s why our solution is designed for employees to easily personalize their experience, so they can address their specific health and lifestyle needs, whether that’s enjoy a quick workout or stretching session, cook up a healthy meal, take a few minutes for mindfulness, or listen to a soothing sleep story before bed.
In fact, our library of wellbeing content contains programs and videos designed by credentialed wellness experts to support individuals managing diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Healthy eating, weight loss and maintenance titles include 14-Day Sugar Reset, 14-Day Carb Reset, Reducing Sugar for Health, Weight Management Jumpstart, Yoga to Control Diabetes, and more.
2. Women’s Health and Wellbeing is a Big Priority
The TBGH Regional Benefits Forums featured a session called Working Women's Benefits Strategies — A Focus on Women's Health & Family Friendly Benefits. As a working mom working for a company led by a working mom, I was especially thrilled to see how the Texas benefits community is embracing innovative ways to support the wide variety of women’s (and family) health and wellness issues, offering employees benefits like fertility and lactation support; paternity, bonding, and surrogacy leave; child care, elder care, and back-up care; college coaching and tuition reimbursement for dependents; and even pet insurance.
Employers have gotten the message that employees and prospective employees — especially the large percentage of those in their childbearing years — expect competitive benefits that make it easier for them to live their lives and take care of their family’s day-to-day needs. A couple of great ways to make sure you’re meeting their expectations, suggests one panelist is to ask employees directly through pulse surveys and focus groups. “Plus, we benchmark our benefits against those of other companies in our space,” one panelist shared, “because it’s not really about salary — it’s about benefits.”
This is consistent with what we’ve been seeing in the marketplace. Companies want to offer something for everyone, while at the same time enabling customization so individuals can make benefits their own. Grokker customers, particularly those with large, diverse, and dispersed workforces, appreciate the breadth of Grokker’s wellbeing video content. “On-demand, personalized wellbeing” is a benefit that employees love — and we’ve designed our product to be easy, fun, and engaging for people, like working moms, who might need a stress-relieving mindfulness exercise in the morning, a prenatal workout in the afternoon, and a family-friendly recipe in the evening.
Grokker has just launched the first part of a new program for expectant moms. With Fit Mom Prenatal: 1st Trimester with Sarah Kusch, women can stay strong and healthy with safe workouts during weeks 10 through 12 of pregnancy. Each week features two 20-minute workouts (one strength, one cardio) with a few minutes at the end dedicated to mindfully connecting with baby. The second and third trimester programs will be released soon.
3. Delivering Benefits and Communicating “Where They’re At” is Key
While it’s essential to collect feedback from your workforce (and competitors) about the most in-demand benefits, it’s just as essential to reach and engage employees in ways that work best for them. Benefits adoption and participation depend on it, right? It’s no wonder effectively deploying and communicating benefits is a perpetual challenge for HR professionals, especially those whose employee base contains a large number of shift or remote workers, or whose workforces are spread across offices, states, or countries.
Rita White-Ross, RN, BSN, CCM, and Health Advocate for the City of Garland, TX, said that “people who don’t work in the office tend to get ignored. It’s up to them to create their own health possibilities. That’s why you have to do what you can to empower them,” she adds, “and they’ll appreciate you for helping them.” White-Ross stresses that it takes some finesse to connect with the hard-to-reach employee. If you want to engage them in a health-related conversation and inspire action, you may need to say something like, “You spend time taking care of your truck, but what about your body?!”
Naturally, on-demand benefits that employees can access online or through their mobile devices are flexible and convenient for employees in the office or “on the streets.” Because most of the panelists’ wellbeing programs had in-person and digital components, their program marketing advice was to take a multi-channel approach — and figure out what works for your particular audience, whether that’s direct mail, signage, email, or all-of-the-above. Leveraging company Wellness Ambassadors was an oft-cited way to boost local program engagement and keep a dispersed workforce motivated and aware of “what’s new.”
My team looks forward to collecting more insights like these as we attend other industry events around the country -- so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, have you thought about what your workforce wellbeing program might be missing? Download our infographic, The 5 Pillars of an Effective Wellbeing Solution, for inspiration.