As more millennials enter the workforce, engaging increasingly diverse employee-base requires a tech-savvy approach, using new communication tools and digital options to connect with workers. This is especially true for employers looking to achieve gains from their wellness program, helping to reduce health care costs and invest in the long-term health and well-being of their employees.
To help drive participation, HR leaders should embrace the use of technology to engage employees, especially millennials, who utilize technology to its fullest extent and rely on devices and social channels to stay connected. While traditional channels are still needed to communicate with the workforce, embracing new technology trends can help to extend the life of a wellness program beyond the workplace to fully connect with employees.
Incorporating digital tools into a wellness program doesn’t require a massive overhaul of the offering or benefits; it can be as simple as utilizing existing technology to connect with employees through channels they’re already using. Below are a few ways HR leaders and managers can harness the power of technology to engage employees in wellness programs.
Fire Up the WiFi
HR leaders can harness the power of email marketing campaigns to drive action from employees, much the same way sales teams use them to capture prospective leads. Use a series of email messages across several weeks, focusing on one key topic in each message. Messages should be short and to the point. Use subject lines that capture attention, and include a call to action for employees to take part. By viewing employees as a customer and using email strategies to connect with them, leaders can help power positive results.
Social media is a fun way for HR leaders to connect with employees through channels they’re already using. LinkedIn and Facebook offer pages and profiles that allow leaders to connect with their employees, creating a common space to provide encouragement and interaction in group wellness programs. It also allows employees to connect with one another and share photos and posts for recognition, create motivation for teams and individuals, and support a strong company culture. We allow individuals to share their accomplishments on their own Facebook wall with their wider network of friends to create greater support and motivation.
It’s important that any communication strategy is optimized for mobile use as more employees turn to their phones for communication. Employers can use email, social posts and text messaging as supporting communications to engage employees in upcoming health challenges or health awareness holidays. Employees also may need to access critical wellness information via phones, so any websites or web pages should be mobile-friendly. Before implementing any digital communication, be sure these types of channels are in compliance with your organization’s information safety and security regulations.
Strap On Your App
Wearables are not new technology, but they continue to get better at tracking users’ health statistics, offering vital info on participants’ health. Many well-being programs include fitness trackers for participants, giving them an active role in monitoring their performance. More advanced programs offer multiple device integration to allow users greater choice in participation with their preferred wearable, simplifying the user experience and reducing the need for multiple systems.
HR leaders can help to drive employee participation in wellness programs by promoting connectivity with wearables. We helped to implement a “Million Steps Challenge” for a client in an effort to create awareness of the program. This company-wide challenge saw an increased utilization of fitness trackers, more employee participation in the wellness program, and an engaged workforce across all segments.
Customization is key to create increased engagement among employees, with offerings that are specific to their wants and needs. HR leaders should evaluate how wellness program components can be personalized to deliver specific support to employees. Digital elements can help to create a more tailored experience, such as video tutorials about proper nutrition and online quizzes to measure comprehension. Using site analytics and aggregated results dashboards, program leaders can capture a greater view of participation and the program elements that drive the greatest engagement.
The use of virtual reality (VR) applications has expanded into wellness. Many companies are turning to this new application to engage users in their health, helping to reduce cravings in tobacco cessation programs. StayWell launched a VR meditation app to help users practice mindful meditation to reduce stress. Users can turn to the VR application instead of unhealthy habits that may only provide temporary relief. Others are using VR apps to engage older adults in cognitive skills. These new tools can be used with a mobile phone, making it easily accessible for employees.
Using digital tools to engage employees in wellness programs provides a rich field of useful data that can be used to refine and enhance programs. As company leaders and HR managers look at enhancing their wellness offerings, the data output from these digital tools yield important information on what users find most helpful, and how and when they best interact with the program. This allows for a more tailored program moving forward and investment into elements that yield the greatest outcomes.
Wellness programs continue to advance to meet the new ways in which employees work and live, and HR leaders can take advantage of these new options to help engage their workforce in their health. Many of the advancements can help employees take a more active role in their health beyond the workplace. HR leaders should be sure to consult with their wellness provider to understand the full slate of options available to them.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.