Learning from America’s Healthiest Employers – Looking Beyond Participation Data
Jesse Gavin, Wellness Program Manager at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Michelle Shaw, Vice President of Human Resources at SmartPractice, and Penny Moore, Chief Commercial Officer at Springbuk
June 29, 2021
While 97% of 2020’s Healthiest Employers Applicants utilize participation data to prove a VOI on their wellness programming initiatives, only 30% look at absenteeism rates, 69% look at financial outcomes, and 53% look at employee retention rates.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve found the highest performers on the Healthiest Employers survey are looking beyond participation data to assess the impact of their program, initiatives, and vendors.
Two of the top-scoring organizations in the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America award, Baylor College of Medicine and SmartPractice, understand the importance of using data to prove the value of their programming. Jesse Gavin (BCM) and Michelle Shaw (SmartPractice) sat down with Springbuk’s Chief Commercial Officer, Penny Moore, to discuss the importance of data in their wellness programs.
Below are a few key takeaways from the discussion. Or you can register to watch the on-demand version here.
Create an Engaging Wellness Program
“One of the things that I find unique about our program is our communication abilities,” said Gavin from Baylor. “We actually utilize 30 different communication avenues through our wellness portal vendor by sending newsletters, Gmail, word of mouth, TV screens, posters, flyers, the list goes on.
“We operate on a three-pillar model for our population. First, since we are an active hospital system, we have physicians and nurses who are very busy and encounter tragic events from time to time; and because of that, mental health and burnout is really big for them. Second, we are a huge research funded institution and, especially right now, we’re doing a lot of COVID and medical research so we have employees all over the world. For example, we have people doing research in Africa right now and finding a way to connect with them is very important.
“And third, we are a medical school, so we have teaching faculty and a student population to look after. I tell them that my main role here is to take care of them so they can take care of other people – because that's what they want to do – that's what their passion is. I'm proud to be amongst all these smart medical minds in this organization.”
SmartPractice’s Shaw added, “I think our most important aspect is that we have leadership support. Our company's mission is to improve world health, and what better way to do that than to start with our own employees? It has just become our culture.
“As we're hiring,, we use our wellness beliefs to recruit and when people come to work here, they know that this is who we are. We have an onsite gym, cafe, EAP counseling for employees, and therapy dogs. But from an HR perspective, we receive a lot of data because we are a self-funded organization and that transparency helps us build our program. We reinvent the program each year and we realized what the employees want and how to advance our four pillars of physical health, mental well being, nutrition, and financial wellness.”
Identify Populations and Proving the Value of Investment
“I think the first step is figuring out how you, as an organization, define engaged and not engaged,” Shaw explained. “Each year, we kind of move the stake in the sand a little bit as our program changes. Once an organization can define that number, that's when you begin to start tracking data over time and see how you're influencing that as a wellness council.
We have huge participation in our biometric screenings. We bring a vendor in and we also use our onsite clinic to capture those employees that don't get the chance to be with our vendor that week. Because of this, we've been able to add outcomes-based rewards to our program for those that maintain their health or see improvement year over year. ”
Gavin added, “We have about 70% of our population participating, registered in our third party wellness portal, by Vitality. We also look at the engaged population who is not just registered, but they're actively participating in activities throughout the year. Additionally, we evaluate claims data. Our wellness program sits under Human Resources, which is huge, because the more data points you have, the better story you’re going to be able to tell and the better you’re going to be able to design your initiatives based on what your population wants and needs.
“We are in the business of improving human health and so it just makes sense that we also improve our own community's health. The value is there and the ability to track absenteeism and analyze our medical costs have really helped us over a period of time.”
Considering a Virtual Wellness World Moving Forward
“Our program is mostly virtual to meet such a diverse workforce and for those located in other parts of the world,” Gavin said. “We want to make sure that they still have the same access as everybody else. Because of COVID-19, we added a lot of resources and to do this, we just listened. We reached out to our employees and said ‘What do you need during this time?’ Because of this, we brought in Bright Horizons, for additional childcare options or if someone’s child is sick, they can take time to care for them.
“We also created a task force to help and found partnerships in the Texas Medical Center and nearby university dorms for lodging, since we had such a large amount of people taking care of infected patients. We were in constant communication about what is going on both nationally and locally and what efforts we are making as an organization. I think that transparency and openness meant a lot to people and so we increased our video presentations and online resources.”
Shaw added, “Communication was one thing that had to increase tremendously last year. We have a large manufacturing population and throughout the entire time, over 50% of employees didn’t have an option to work from home. For those that could work remotely, we took our workout classes and lunch-and-learn sessions virtual. We are seeing an increasing number of people who enjoy working from home and I think we will continue to utilize telemedicine across the country.
“I also anticipate that part time work will be on the rise, so we have already started thinking about how we can offer wellness and benefits to part-time workers to stay competitive in the marketspace, as potential employees continue to look for flexible options.”