Wellness leadership: culture + strategy = results!

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1 Wellness leadership: culture + strategy = results! Bryce Williams, Vice President, Well-Being Blue Shield of California costs health blueshieldca.com

2 Wellness leadership 2 Employers are the ultimate purchasers of health care for the majority of Americans, spending roughly $12,000 per employee per year on total healthcare costs. 1 Chronic health conditions are on the rise, which will cost employers even more as they provide medical benefits and absorb the costs of absence from sickness or disability leave. In fact, the financial impact of absenteeism and decreased productivity due to poor health (presenteeism) was found to be 2.3 times higher than medical and pharmacy costs alone. 2 Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year. 3 Rather than just viewing employee health as a cost to be reduced for the bottom line, look at it as an investment in the business and in you. Changing a company culture starts at the top and establishing a wellness culture is no exception. At Blue Shield we developed three core leadership principles to drive a leader-invested versus a leader-supported wellness vision: 1 Meet employees where they are. 2 Give them the tools to succeed. 3 Go there with them. Let s explore these in more detail.

3 Wellness leadership 3 1 Meet employees where they are Although well intentioned, many worksite wellness programs focus on the destination, as opposed to the journey, resulting in homogenized programming, rigid mandates, and weak employee engagement. Credible leaders recognize that successful outcomes required robust engagement which starts with a culture of inclusion where employees feel accepted and inspired, irrespective of health status. The goal is to help employees incorporate healthy habits into their regular lives and routines, rather than to impose stressful add-ons that feel like extra work. This objective required a design to address all stages of employee knowledge, adoption, and goals including: Awareness: I have an adequate level of awareness of my health status and practices. Understanding: My health knowledge spurs me to care about my health. Acceptance: I am taking action to improve my health. Ownership: I experience the benefits of my new health choices. Employee health programs don t work if no one knows about them. Forrester research shows 63% of employees (and as high as 86% depending on the program) aren t aware of health and wellness options their employers offer. 4 You must consistently and regularly communicate in a positive framework that inspires participation and demonstrates that wellness is a priority. Always be willing to address concerns and objections in a transparent and genuine way as some employees may be concerned they will be forced into lifestyle changes against their will, or that they ve heard this wellness story before but there was no long-term follow-through by the organization.

4 Wellness leadership 4 2 Give them the tools to succeed When it comes to tools, many wellness program leaders fall victim to a problem/ solution mindset. Too many smokers? Launch a smoking cessation program. Not enough activity? Start a walking group. Problem solved, right? If only it were that easy. Transformational wellness leaders recognize that change can be hard and moving the needle on diet and lifestyle choices requires an investment in leading-edge wellness designs. Blue Shield s experience and partnership with leading academics resulted in four design tools to drive change that sticks: Make it rewarding Aligning cost-effective, meaningful incentives between employer and employee ensures that employees share in the benefit from their commitment to healthy living and feel acknowledged by organizational leaders. Today s wellness theory shows that people are more motivated when they feel as if they are losing something they are entitled to rather than earning a reward, so it may be more effective to say don t lose your medical premium discount versus earn a gift card. Make it easy Changes in diet and lifestyle can be tough. Next-generation wellness leaders are increasingly designing worksite environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice, such as vending machines with healthy items or a walking workstation. Make it social Social media is a part of everyday life and health research has documented the powerful impact that friends, family, and colleagues have on our health behaviors and outcomes. Make it fun All work and no play can make well-being a chore. Increasingly, leaders are opting to gamify their wellness solutions so that having fun and getting healthy aren t viewed as mutually exclusive.

5 Wellness leadership 5 3 Go there with them Leaders should walk the talk and be equally accountable for their own wellness results. It s crucial that you model the desired behavior by participating in the activities or adopting new healthy habits. When management visibly stands behind the wellness message, employees will be more likely to adopt, participate, and engage in the new culture. The California Department of Public Health found success with a worksite wellness pilot introduced by Blue Shield called Bill of Good Health. The Richmond Lab campus pilot design encouraged participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of individual health status through an online health assessment and biometric screening. Supplementary wellness programs were introduced to support and reward positive behavior. In 2012, the results were astounding: 78% completed a health screening and 67% enrolled in one of several improvement programs. 5 It s a win-win for every employee who sees that their organization is committed to their health and is willing to invest in their health. And then in the long run, this really helps an organization become stronger and better, said Kathleen Billingsley, chief deputy director, California Department of Public Health. Another way to operationalize wellness is to create a formal business plan around it, just as you would any other company priority. This aligns your management so they understand the objectives, roles, and expectations as they relate to their support of wellness within the organization. And finally, make it real. Business leaders understand you can t manage what you don t measure. There are several metrics you can track: Program data, such as participation rate (enrolled), engagement rate (enrolled and actually showed up), as well as program satisfaction, which can be easily measured with a simple survey Performance data, such as visible healthy behavior or change in lifestyle choices (physical activity, diet, etc.) Reduction in health risks (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index, etc.) as measured by biometric screenings Finance and productivity metrics such as fewer sick days, less medication use, lower disability claims, etc. Cultural data, such as employee perceptions of the workplace and employee retention

6 Wellness leadership 6 Evaluate your organization s progress regularly not just annually so you can optimize programs for effectiveness, check on employee satisfaction, or discover gaps in wellness offerings. Consider creating a dashboard that captures results by department so everyone can visualize collective success and learn from each other. 90% 90% 89% 72% Wellness assessment Biometric screening Wellness goals and programs Annual preventive visit The foundation of a results-oriented wellness strategy depends on commitment, care, and consistency. It is very important to keep your wellness vision visible and active year after year to develop and maintain this new culture. To see how the California Department of Public Health achieved wellness success, visit the video case study in our Real Stories, Real Results series. 1 Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care U.S. Preventive Medicine, Inc. 3 Centers for Disease Control. 4 Employers Embrace Wellness Management. Forrester Research, Inc. February Data collected by Blue Shield of California from various sources, 2012.

7 Wellness leadership 7 Case study synopsis In 2011, Blue Shield of California collaborated with CalPERS to launch a wellness pilot with the California Department of Public Health (Richmond Lab campus) to engage and motivate employees to take action to improve their health status. The program was branded Bill of Good Health and was open to all employees on campus, regardless of health plan affiliation, during a fixed time period. The successful pilot was honed in 2012 to refine best practices and compare key results year over year. Bill of Good Health began with a health risk assessment so employees could learn their numbers (such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.), followed by supplementary wellness programs around diet and exercise to introduce and support positive behavior change. Rewards were uniquely structured to incentivize personal participation as well as larger goals of campus-wide engagement. An important hypothesis tested was whether the use of peer support (and even friendly competition) to encourage participation would be a powerful driver of engagement. It was. Anchoring the reward to a shared goal got people talking and became one of the primary motivators. continued

8 Wellness leadership 8 Case study synopsis (continued) Awareness and buzz was generated in a variety of creative ways to kick off the program and keep it top of mind across campus. Senior-level leadership was visibly supportive and participated right alongside everyone else. As a result, the goals were not only achieved, but exceeded: Health screening completion Goal: 50% 2011 result: 65% 2012 result: 78% Health improvement program enrollment Goal: 50% 2011 result: 60% 2012 result: 63% In fact, employees logged over 3,100 physical activity hours in the 12-week time period and hundreds participated in a fitness camp, enrolled in Weight Watchers at Work, joined a social peer support program, or attended the lunchtime speaker series. Employee satisfaction with the program was also very high with 98% of post-pilot survey respondents reporting being satisfied to extremely satisfied, up from 91% in Overall, the Bill of Good Health pilot increased morale, as employees created common bonds and shared experiences. Many also said they felt recognized and encouraged to take more responsibility for their health. To see how the California Department of Public Health achieved wellness success, visit the video case study in our Real Stories, Real Results series. An independent member of the Blue Shield Association A45513 (1/13) blueshieldca.com

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