Business of Well-being

New Apps Improve Employee Wellness

Numerous studies show that improving employee wellness decreases employer healthcare costs. In addition, research directly correlates employee benefits with overall employee satisfaction. Now employers can combine these two factors - employee wellness and benefits - into one integrated package.

Incorporating apps into an employer's benefits management platform makes it easy for employees to enroll in wellness programs at the same time as they enroll in medical and voluntary benefits. Apps extend the value of the benefits management platform by integrating all benefits in one place, thus creating a more robust benefits package in a cost-effective, user-friendly way.

A rich benefits package encourages employee retention and increases loyalty. Comprehensive employee wellness programs that significantly impact employees include a combination of physical, financial and community wellness initiatives.

According to MetLife's 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends, employees who are satisfied with their benefits are nearly three times as likely to express a strong sense of loyalty to their employers. By using apps to offer wellness benefits that employees can access year-round, instead of just when they are sick, companies are improving employee satisfaction while improving wellness and reducing healthcare costs.

Wellness Apps

Many employers have already incorporated wellness initiatives into their current benefits offerings, available to employees through their benefits management platforms. Whether they are corporate-wide programs or personalized health alerts, wellness apps help employees take control of their health. Some innovative examples include:

  • Genetic Wellness: Navigenics, a leading provider of genetic analysis, helps employees understand their unique genetic information and develop strategies to reduce their risks and manage their health. After analyzing a simple DNA test, Navigenics shares confidential, personalized genetic information with employees to motivate behavior changes.

    The confidential online Navigenics portal provides genetic predispositions for specific health conditions and medication sensitivities, with a focus on conditions that employees can take action to prevent. Employees are also assigned a board-certified genetic expert who provides one-on-one counseling to help employees and their doctors make the most of these genetic insights.

  • Personalized Health Alerts: Customized health-related alerts give employees real-time knowledge to take control of their health and ultimately reduce their own out-of-pocket expenses. One such tool is Just InTime Wellness, available from healthcare solutions provider SCIOinspire. Just InTime Wellness sends personalized, proactive alerts to notify users when preventive services are recommended or a "gap-in-care" is identified by analyzing the individual's healthcare data.

    Employees are able to choose how they prefer to be notified when they have an alert: through text message, e-mail, telephone or mail. Upon logging into their secure benefits management platform, employees see alerts displayed prominently on the homepage and are encouraged to take action.

    For instance, an employee who has identified a chronic condition may be sent a reminder to refill a prescription. Additional educational information is available to employees, including related healthcare videos, articles, calculators and symptom checkers.
  • Personal Health Assessments: Employees can complete a Personal Health Assessment (PHA), an online health survey that delivers a confidential health analysis and encourages them to adopt healthier lifestyles. Biometric screenings, physical exams and online questionnaires can all be incorporated into the PHA.

    Each employee receives a personalized, confidential report called the "Personal Health Profile" based on his or her PHA answers, biometric screening results, or a combination of both. The profile provides a detailed analysis of the individual's complete health with videos and personalized recommendations to improve wellness and lower health risks.

    Employers can financially reward employees for completing a PHA by offering a reduced healthcare premiums or contributing funds to an HSA. Employees are then able to see the impact these financial awards have on their personal benefits costs during the enrollment process.
  • Drive Physical Behavior: Employers often struggle with developing wellness programs that effectively engage employees, which is a necessity for establishing long-term behavioral changes. Sonic Boom, a high-tech wellness company, offers innovative programs that drive exceptionally high participation by using competition and social interaction.

    Focused on improving employee health habits, Sonic Boom offers daily challenges that are fun and active. Their unique program includes state-of-the-art accelerometers, social networking, games, competition and proprietary tools to influence behavior change.

Financial Wellness Apps

Building a strong financial foundation is essential to overall employee well-being and satisfaction. Some employees may be new to the financial planning process, so it is essential for employers to provide access to financial information in a user-friendly manner that explains complicated financial terms and concepts in simple, clear language.

  • Identity Theft Protection: Identity theft rates are rising and employers are eager to mitigate the effect it has on employees, productivity and corporate liability. According to industry reports, it takes an employee between 58-165 work hours to remediate identity theft and costs companies and employees more than $54 billion each year.

    InfoArmor, a trusted provider of identity theft protection and privacy management services, understands the risk and cost associated with identity theft. The InfoArmor App assesses employee's risk, deters identity theft and detects fraud in its earliest stages, an average of 90 days before regular credit monitoring.

    Should an employee's identity be stolen, InfoArmor provides a high-tech system for managing the restoration process and fraud reimbursement policy to cover expenses.
  • Financial Wellness: Consolidated Credit Counseling Services helps employees deal with life-altering credit, debt and financial issues. The Consolidated Credit Counseling Services App provides free financial planning information and videos to educate employees on the skills necessary to live a financially secure lifestyle.

    Budget calculators, worksheets and more than 30 videos teach employees to live within their means and stay financially fit. By using these tools, employees are encouraged to save and invest while they reduce expenses and debt. The app offers guidance on establishing achievable financial goals, building a personal budget, managing financial stress and planning for the future.

Community Wellness

According to United Healthcare/Volunteer Match's Do Good. Live Well survey, 89 percent of participants reported that volunteering improved their sense of well-being and 68 percent found that volunteering made them feel physically healthier. Giving back to the community through volunteer efforts and monetary contributions not only helps those in need, but also benefits employees by improving their physical health.

  • Charitable Giving: Corporations have an opportunity to support employees' philanthropic efforts by encouraging volunteer time, matching charitable contributions or introducing employees to various nonprofit organizations based on employees' unique interests. One innovative example comes from GiveBack, a public charity that helps individuals donate to the nonprofits that matter to them.

    The GiveBack@Work App allows employees to give to any charity through automatic payroll deductions. GiveBack ensures that 100 percent of donated funds reach their intended recipients and helps employers promote social responsibility within an organization. And because donations are set up through payroll deductions, employees can easily and consistently support their favorite causes.

Successful Wellness Programs

Wellness programs and apps are most effective when employees are engaged and using them on a regular basis. Some employers offer reduced health premiums or more robust benefits plans to employees who participate in wellness programs.

The apps mentioned above can easily be incorporated into an employer's existing benefit management platforms, so employees can quickly access them from the same portal they use to enroll in benefits and communicate with their HR team.

By giving employees access to a variety of wellness and financial tools, employers can begin to drive behavior change and improve overall well-being and employee satisfaction.

About The Author

Nancy Sansom, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Nancy Sansom is responsible for marketing, corporate communication, creative services, strategic planning and events for Benefitfocus. She has held multiple roles including Vice President, Product Management and Marketing, overseeing development of the Benefitfocus Platform and applications.

Sansom has more than 15 years of experience with an extensive background in software product management, marketing, implementation and consulting. Prior to joining Benefitfocus, she was a Senior Associate at Cambar Solutions.

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