Employee wellness programs have been around for decades. But you'd be hard-pressed to call them successful. At least not in certain terms. They typically:
- Lack consideration of whole health
- Discount the power of behavior change
- Fail to include meaningful incentives to help engage employees
But don't lose all hope. Because today's new approaches to employee wellness are showing amazing promise. Why is that? Below, we discuss the differences between the old and the new models to better understand what's effective ... and what's just getting in the way.
Why the old ideas have failed
Why it was supposed to work: If employees understand how to eat healthier, they’ll change their diets and improve their health.
Why it failed: Education and awareness aren't enough to inspire behavior change. People need a better incentive. And if they feel isolated because they don't have the time or money to eat healthier foods — they're going to quit before they even begin.
A new approach: Connect employees with a provider and a health coach who have the time and resources to listen to a patient’s needs. Discuss nutrition on an individual level that recognizes the potential for financial or other barriers to healthier eating. Offer personalized nutrition goals and encourage follow-up appointments to encourage patients to stick to their new nutrition goals.
Fitness centers and club memberships
Why it was supposed to work: Providing employees with a free gym membership or even an on-site gym access encourages better health and increases productivity.
Why it failed: If you only focus on one path to better health, chances are, you're only going to attract those who are already on it. Meaning: a lot of people aren't going to participate with gym memberships.
A new approach: Foster an environment that focuses on behavior change. Easy, right? It's not. But it is doable when you have providers and health coaches committed to empathetic listening and empowering patients to own their health. Nobody's path to better health is going to look the same.
Health Screenings & Risk Assessments
Why it was supposed to work: Screenings increase employees' awareness about health issues, and give them a way to monitor their health from the workplace.
Why it failed: No follow-up. Employees aren’t required to take action after their screenings, and fail to capitalize on an increased awareness of a health issue.
A new approach: Recommend screenings and health assessments based on an individual’s personal and family health history. Follow up screenings with concrete medical advice and support, goal-setting assistance, and other tangible strategies for improving health.
On- or near-site clinics offer a better approach
Behavior change, empathetic listening, and a focus on whole health are important keys to improved health. This isn't a sales pitch, but here's the reality: they're also all found within the walls of an on- or near-site clinic.
Can you imagine it — finally experiencing the benefits employee wellness programs have always promised, but could only partially deliver? You don't have to imagine ...
But first things first, check out one of our foundational eBooks about on- or near-site clinics and fundamentally changing our approach to health: Sick Care Is Doomed To Failure.