Wellness Programming: Reaching Those Who Need The Services Most

The program planning challenge for the majority of wellness managers is devising and marketing health promotion programs tailored to convince the most “unhealthy” segment of your employee population to participate. A frustration expressed by managers is that it’s the same group of healthy and fit employees who regularly participate in programs.

But the strategy to reach the non-participants, is that wellness managers need to identify the types of programs and services those employees may be interested in.

Consultant Robin Foust, a population/individual health and productivity management specialist with Zoe Consulting, has devoted time and analysis to try to learn what it will take to get the less healthy employees to commit to participating in wellness programs. A while back Robin shared her thoughts with us:

“With some of our clients we took a phased in approach that included facilitating nominal groups and a random survey to identify what programs the employees wanted, would actually participate in if offered, how we could motivate them to participate and how best to communicate to them.”  The members included employees and retirees.

Foust also conducted interviews with what are referred to as the key business executives to get their perspective and support, and “we established what we call Wellness Ambassadors responsible for promotion and implementation.”

She said she was also able to have interns help with promoting and keeping the wellness program accessible.

The data and ranking that gathered from the nominal group process “has been invaluable as to what will work to get those employees that are not the already healthy — to participate,” Foust explained. “We also learned a great dealabout other things that were hindering participation and are working on changing those barriers like sick/wellness leave.”

Foust also suggested that if a wellness manager has not done a baseline needs and wants assessment in a while — it may help to do so as the employees get a sense of ownership and that this “may be for me” and not just the healthy employees.

“The nominal group process is fast, efficient and results in some great information, not to mention the power of employee involvement,” said Foust.

She said she plans to use health risk assessments (HRAs) in the next phase of the process but along with onsite clinical screening with contests to increase participation.

“The HRAs are more for being able to evaluate outcomes over time — including linking with claims to evaluate impact on costs,” Foust explained. Without the HRA and clinical risks it is challenging to prove correlation and the “business case,” however, with it a manager can, she said.

“We also have some challenges planned and other things all based on the nominal group and survey work,” Foust continued. “So far, our participation has exceeded expectations.”

Address: Robin F. Foust, Zoe Consulting Inc., P.O. Box 258, Catawba, SC 29704; (803) 324-8626.

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