Benefits, especially health insurance, are a vital part of employee compensation and satisfaction. Yet getting employees to use all services available, such as wellness programs, can be challenging. Although research has found that daily engagement in wellness programs produces long-lasting behavior change, employers report that participation in wellness programs often falls short of goals.
“Typically, Human Resource (HR) departments would serve as the connector between employees and their benefits,” says Stephen Chee, director of employee wellness at Lifetime Wellness, a leading provider of whole-person wellness programs. “But HR staff are often overwhelmed with other priorities and have limited time to engage employees in wellness initiatives. Also, many employees are confused when their health insurance provider calls them. They think it’s about a billing issue, as opposed to a benefit. The relationship between employee and insurer is often broken, or nonexistent.”
Building the Bridge
Many organizations are taking a new approach to benefits by leveraging the services of a wellness coordinator. This person assumes the role of being the primary contact for all wellness programming; coordinates employee engagement in health insurance and other benefit programs, from employee assistance to grief counseling; and serves as a wellness coach, helping employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.
The Lifetime Wellness program, for example, offers employers a wellness coordinator, whose time is devoted to serving as a “health concierge” and engaging employees in wellness initiatives. “The presence of a wellness coordinator helps reduce stress and workload in the HR department,” Chee says. “It also serves as a bridge between wellness programming and the workforce by coordinating relationships among HR staff, insurance providers, senior management, and employees. Costs are offset by reduced insurance claims and measurable improvements in employee health.”
Managing Relationships with Vendors
Working with employer vendors, such as providers of life insurance and workman’s compensation, the wellness coordinator delivers tools and resources that support multiple aspects of an individual’s quality of life. “Having a central point of contact for benefits coordination can help increase employee engagement in third-party offerings,” Chee says. “The wellness coordinator doesn’t choose employer vendors but increases use of those that are already in place by synthesizing information, presenting it quarterly, and developing a unified wellness communication strategy. As a result, employees can easily understand – and leverage – the many services available to them.”
Coaching and Supporting
The wellness coordinator also provides employees with ongoing health education and a system of accountability. “Through thoughtful interactions, the wellness coordinator establishes a trusting relationship, supports and motivates employees, and serves as a central coordinating point for wellness programming,” Chee says. “This translates into gains for employers through increased productivity, lower health care costs, and a culture of well-being across their organizations.”
Find out how Lifetime Wellness can help you to implement an integrated employee benefits program.