4 Must-Haves for Employee Wellness Programs

Kembre Roberts By Kembre Roberts

Editor’s Note: Our second guest blogger for this month is Kembre Roberts, Manager for Employee Wellness at Southwest Airlines. She is no stranger to the corporate wellness world— before joining Southwest Airlines in 2011, her first 10 years in the industry were focused on designing corporate wellness initiatives and linking health plan savings to healthy lifestyles. We are very excited that Kembre will be speaking on motivating workforces through customized well-being practices at the 8th Annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium on June 2.

With the continual rising costs in healthcare, many organizations are still looking for ways to improve and preserve the health of their population to sustain a dynamic workforce. The challenges that many organizations face include resources both in people and budget, selecting the right program mix for their biggest health risks, and providing solutions that are well received by their employees – all while ensuring health privacy and compliance.

That’s not easy. The good news, however, is that the opportunities are endless. From consumer products and apps to employee wellness product offerings, there are more solutions in the marketplace than you’ll have time to review. How do you decide what’s best for your organization?

Here are four wellness program must-haves that I believe every great program will include:

1. A Match With Your Company Culture

Every company has a culture that reflects their business, employees, history, and leadership. And, one should consider all those factors before implementing a wellness program design. If your company is one that is known for empowering employees to make great business decisions, it may be counterproductive to design a wellness program around penalties. Perhaps a program focused on rewarding great wellness choices would be a better match. On the other hand, if your culture is really strong in top-down leadership, you may find that incorporating wellness goals into leaders’ performance development plans may be more appropriate than an incentive-based program.

2. Solutions Determined by Your Data

As I mentioned earlier, the wellness marketplace is full of solutions! Many times I’ve found myself excited about a vendor’s wellness solution and the impact it could have on our organization, only to review our employees’ health data and recognize that investing in that particular solution would not have the biggest impact on our population. So, I encourage you to get to know your data before inviting vendors to the table. If you do not have direct access to your data, your benefits consultants or health plan providers can assist you with this information.

3. An Opportunity to Address the Whole Person

Once you have determined the right solution based on your data, seek to ensure that the solution addresses the whole person. A diabetic program that digitally monitors glucose readings and ensures medication adherence is a great step for participants. In this case, ensure that your diabetic program vendor also connects the employee to your Employee Assistance Program or Work/Life Services for other situations that may be relevant now or in the future. Use all touch points to take care of the person, not just the medical condition.

4. Wellness That Makes Your Employee Proud

We want our employees to take pride in our company, our mission, and our values. Therefore, we should consider a wellness program designed to embody those same qualities. We can all strive to develop wellness programs that leave employees feeling great about their employer for providing that weight loss program that helped them get back to their college days, or those counseling sessions through the EAP that helped them through a difficult diagnosis with cancer, or that nutrition program that helped someone with diabetes maintain their blood sugar levels. Design a program that generates wellness enthusiasm, behavior change, and company pride and your employees will carry the message of its value to others in the organization.

Need help getting started? Try one of these organizations:

Or to start a conversation about building a wellness program that’s right for your organization and its people, just reach out.

Kembre Roberts

By Kembre Roberts, Manager for Employee Wellness, Southwest Airlines

Kembre is responsible for the administration and design of employee wellness, employee assistance programs, work-life services and clinical programs for 50,000 Employees and their dependents across 97 locations in the United States. As a member of the benefits strategy team at Southwest, she is always seeking ways to tie in preventive approaches to plan design and minimize the cost-shifting that often occurs in health plans.