Starting a wellness program can be stressful especially when you don’t know where to start. A well-designed and comprehensive wellness program can definitely improve productivity, profitability and boost employee morale. But, with all the wellness vendors popping up left and right, how do you know which would best suit your company and deliver the results you want?
Here’s 5 Steps to choosing the best corporate wellness vendor for your organization:
Step 1: Conduct an Anonymous Employee Interest Survey
This is an opportunity to learn what your employees are interested in, and more importantly what they are not. You can also use this time to get feedback on current programs and ideas for future initiatives. Remember that your employee health data may already be covered on HRAs or medical claims data, so you can leave it out of your survey.
Step 2: Outline Your Wellness Goals and Expectations
What are you looking to gain out of your wellness program? What type of philosophy best matches your company’s culture? If you want to succeed you need to choose a vendor who best aligns with your vision. Are you looking to reduce medical claims, boost employee morale or both? Before researching vendors or partners, make a list of your goals and expectations. Then reach out to your Insurance Carrier, Broker, or any relevant organizations in your network to help you find potential vendors that have experience working with similar companies in your industry.
Step 3: Select a Vendor/s
What are you looking for from a vendor? Some will just set up a program and let your team handle the rest, while others will work with your company to bring your vision to life? Consider what the vendors offer along with the skills and qualifications of the professionals you’ll be working with. Are you looking for them to have specific certifications or licenses? Don’t just go for the big name companies who sell you a cookie-cutter program. Big or small, every vendor has their strengths and weaknesses and are all qualified to create a program. Find one that offers exactly what you’re looking for and has innovative technologies and services.
Questions to consider:
Does the vendor offer in-person or online services or both?
This can be a determining factor if you have employees who work from different locations. It’s best to office on-site services but for the employees who work from home or in remote locations, they need to be able to access the similar services. Maybe have live-streaming presentations or conference calls, online health coaching, and more.
Does the vendor provide a comprehensive wellness program or a la carte services or both?
A comprehensive wellness program is the way to go because it’ll cater to the needs of any organization. Determine whether you’ll use a vendor that offers many services covering all aspects of wellness or not. Maybe you have a few great programs in play and you might need a few services from their menu, is that possible?
Does the vendor follow HIPPA Guidelines?
As stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Where a workplace wellness program is offered as part of a group health plan, the individually identifiable health information collected from or created about participants in the wellness program is personal health information and protected by the HIPAA Rules.” Make sure your vendor is following all of these guidelines and your employee health data remains confidential.
Does the vendor provide innovative solutions?
Wellness isn’t only about physical health, but also mental, financial, social, environmental, and occupational. Older corporate vendors have been offering the same types of programs (i.e. walking program, tobacco cessation, seminars) for decades. If you want to truly change the culture and well-being of your organization, you need to offer more innovation. Make sure the vendor you choose offers different solutions to cater to the learning styles of the different employees at your organization. Some groups may benefit from a lunch-and-learn presentation, while others need to be doing something more hands-on. Also look for vendors that offer fun engaging events, wellness portals, online resources and new technology to give your employees a great experience.
Will the vendor customize programs to meet the specific needs of your employees?
Your wellness vendor should gather data and visit your workplace to immerse themselves in your culture. Then using this information, they can develop a customized program that will best suit your organization. A company who has older employees may benefit from a disease management program where as one with younger healthier employees might have no use for it. Wellness vendors that are true partners will do whatever it takes to create and implement a solution that is customized to each location within a company, and cater to the needs of each individual employee.
How does the vendor measure participant satisfaction?
In order to know whether a program is working and if people are really participating and engaged, the vendor should be tracking and measuring the data. These assessments must be done occasionally otherwise you’re just throwing money in the trash. A simple way to track data is to have surveys at the events. You can also use anonymous suggestion boxes for feedback. Using this data, your vendor will be able to tell you what has been working best and what needs to be changed.
Step 4: Determine your need for Program Support.
Does the program offer marketing support?
The reason why most wellness programs fail is due to lack of communication and poor marketing. You can’t offer the program and expect everyone to know the details or how to get started. When you launch a program, you need to make sure everyone knows about it and is excited. You need to deliver the message to the employees in multiple ways. While some employees will read the company newsletters, maybe some others will more likely respond to a text or a Facebook post. Choose a vendor that helps with marketing campaigns, maybe through social media, monthly newsletters or flyers and brochures. Vendors that offer this type of support can take the stress off of your team and help you to maximize your investment.
Is the program mobile-friendly?
According to new research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 68% of Americans own a smartphone. They use their phones for everything: communication, learning, entertainment, and sharing information – why not include that in your wellness program? To boost engagement, make sure the vendor has a mobile-friendly website and portal in which your employees can participate and have access to all materials from their phone.
Does the vendor help with scheduling?
If you want to keep employees engaged and boost participation, it’s crucial to offer frequent events and activities – not just an annual health fair. Does your vendor help determine the best timing and frequency for events? Do they help you schedule events throughout the year? Not all employees take breaks at the same time or work the same shift. Is it possible to offer some activities and services at multiple times during the day so that nobody is left out? Maybe offer something in the morning before work begins, during lunch, and after work. Now everyone can attend and you’ll hear less excuses as to why they can’t make it.
Step 5: Determine the Programs’ Practicality for Your Employees
Does your program provide diverse offerings?
Ditch the vendors that have a very simple approach to wellness and only focus on health or fitness. Consumers are learning about new ways to live healthier and happier. Find a vendor who offers holistic services that focus on nutrition, mindfullness, self-care, and relaxation. Or look for one who offers professional development, leadership training, and volunteering. The more diverse the offerings, the more your employees will want to participate.
In a nutshell
Hiring a corporate wellness vendor is a big investment for most companies. There are many risks involved, but also potential benefits. Hire the wrong vendor and you’ll waste your money. Contract with the right vendor and your big investment will turn into bigger profits and greater savings. The goal is to have a vendor who’s a your partner for long-term success – one that will offer a transformational experience for your company and its employees. The right wellness company will not only make your employees healthier, happier, and more productive, but also keep them fully engaged and help you to attract top talent and retain your best workers.