How to Choose a Wellness Program That (Really) Works

You’ve had the same corporate wellness program since blouses had shoulder pads and computers were the size of small boulders. Each year, it’s more of the same old, same old. Chances are, only a small percentage of your population actually participates. They get their annual physicals, complete their health surveys, and receive an incentive for doing so. But what’s next? Sadly, not much until this time next year. Where is the spark? How can you ignite their desire to take personal responsibility for their health and well-being?
What if your well-being program could actually provide real, lasting change? Those same changes could cumulatively yield a happier, healthier workforce, maximizing Human Performance and reducing company healthcare costs.

It’s possible, according to an article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The article’s 22 authors each reviewed three decades worth of data and drew the same conclusion: Well-being programs can work. But employers have to assess their goals and workplace culture before seeking out a program that can positively influence both.

The most effective well-being programs, according to the article, are well-designed, well-executed, and founded on evidence-based principles. How can you find a well-being program that lives up to its hype — and also meets your expectations?

Look for a program that:

Takes a Holistic Approach

Your well-being is made up of more than just the physical health of your employees. That’s why programs that focus only on diet and exercise often fall short. Instead, look for a program that takes a “Human Performance” approach, which provides offerings that meet a person’s emotional, physical, financial, and social health — and recognizes the interconnection between them. For example, you may have employees who are already at peak physical health, but struggle with finances. Those money woes can lead to real physical stress, which can negatively impact their overall health. By choosing a well-being program that looks at the various aspects that makes a person whole, you can help employees make real, lasting change in the areas where they need it most.

Starts with the Individual

Everyone has their own unique reason for wanting to be the best version of themselves. The “Ignite Moment” is when they discover that intrinsic motivator. It’s the moment when people realize “what” inspires them to make a positive change and actively begin to do so. This momentum can take many forms, such as setting a goal, participating in a coaching program, or reaching out to a resource for guidance. By discovering their intrinsic motivator, people will feel empowered to dig deep and push forward, even in the face of obstacles. Look for a program that can be tailored to each individual, allowing your employees to set goals, overcome obstacles, and create their own roadmap to success. Allowing them to have a say in the desired outcome they want for their life will make them all the more likely to stay committed and see it through.

Personalized to Your Population

Your well-being program should be tailored to the needs of your population. Maybe you’ve recruited a number of recent college graduates, who are struggling with school debt. They could benefit from a well-being program that offers tips to help pay it off, such as ADURO’s “Budget Basics” Path. Or, perhaps you work in a high-stress environment, such as a healthcare facility. ADURO’s “Change Resilience” Path can teach them powerful techniques to combat stress and develop skills to face adversities and challenges with greater ease. Whichever well-being program you choose, make sure that it can be adapted to fit your needs and culture, not the other way around. One of our clients said that they compared ADURO to 22 other vendors and we came out on top, largely due to our flexibility and nimbleness.

Integrates Into Everyday Life

To inspire meaningful change, your well-being program has to address the causes of certain human and organizational behaviors, such as unhealthy habits, external factors, work and family environment. At ADURO, we use a Transformative Habit Change Model to help employees make tiny changes that add up to a healthier life.

What does that change look like? It could mean reflecting on their relationship with money and deciding to gradually chip away at credit card debt. Over time, that small change could lead to cutting up high-interest cards, living debt-free, and opening a savings account. For others, it may mean setting their alarm to go to bed earlier and unplugging from technology before bed. Weeks of improved sleep might lead to higher productivity and greater focus throughout the day. Or the first action may be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, increasing daily movement. The long-term result might be weight loss, greater energy, and increased happiness. By choosing a program that provides little daily nudges, you can help your employees make healthier choices and — eventually — lead healthier lives.

Does the Heavy Lifting For You

The success of your program is dependent upon how well it’s promoted internally. In fact, 69 percent of the people who didn’t participate in their company’s well-being program said it was because they didn’t even know about it, according to a survey by the Harvard Business Review. To make it easier to spread the word, we provide clients with account management and a “Brand-on-Demand” toolkit, which offers customizable digital or print marketing materials. Choose from posters, fact sheets, postcards, flyers, and more, which can all be personalized using your unique program logo, name, colors, and fonts. At ADURO, we understand the power of brand; there are no cookie-cutter solutions here.

Lets You Have the Data

Data is at the heart of every great well-being program. Before you can determine whether yours is working, you have to first decide which metric means the most to you. At ADURO, we talk less about ROI (Return on Investment) and more about VOI (Value on Investment). VOI looks beyond reduced healthcare and administration costs to also consider factors in absenteeism, productivity, retention, and employee engagement. How can you tell if the needle is moving in the right direction? ADURO offers “Population Insights,” which provides clients with more than 100 on-demand reports. So your data isn’t hidden behind a magic red curtain. It’s available any time — and it’s yours to keep.

Like most things in life, you’ll only get as much out of a well-being program as your people are willing to put in and invest in themselves. Participation is key. So make sure that your executives and managers are “all in,” so that your employees will be, too.

Ready to leave your wellness program in the past? Read more about our Human Performance approach.